They were supposed to be the oldest kids on the block. Marcello Lippi was set to rely on the same faces who won him the World Cup four years ago. The pundits were agreed, this would be one of the most veteran sides at the 2010 World Cup.
On Tuesday night, they were all proven wrong.
The Italy boss has dumped the majority of the squad which won the tournament in Germany. He has brought in a lot of young blood to his 23. So much for the stereotypes.
Alex Del Piero never had a look in. He dallied with Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nesta, but in the end they were not part of the expedition.
Luca Toni said he was disappointed but not surprised to be left behind. Poor Fabio Grosso made it to the final 30 before being cast aside.
In other words, the Italy coach made it clear he was not going to let sentiment pick his squad. Even if he was willing to stand by some, like Rino Gattuso or Mauro Camoranesi, who had not shown their best in Serie A.
The defence does boast old timers like Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, but scratch the surface and it has a more youthful feel.
Giorgio Chiellini, Christian Maggio, Leonardo Bonucci, Salvatore Bocchetti and Domenico Criscito are all on the "right side" of 30.
The heart of the side, the midfield, has a similar feel. You get the familiar faces of Andrea Pirlo, Gattuso, and Camoranesi but there is also the driving force of Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo, Claudio Marchisio, Angelo Palombo (admittedly pushing 30) and Simone Pepe.
Even the attack has the majority of its players in their 20s thanks to Alberto Gilardino, Giampaolo Pazzini, and Fabio Quagliarella (all current or former Fiorentina players). They will team up with the more experienced Toto Di Natale and Vincenzo Iaquinta.
Of course, Lippi could have been more bold, nobody can deny that fact.
Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon are among the players who never even made it to the final 30. And the last cut was harsh on the likes of Giuseppe Rossi and Mattia Cassani. Their time may come, however, under Cesare Prandelli.
Whether this 23 is good enough to defend the World Cup is the subject of much conjecture. It will surely need some of the new generation to step up to the mark and show themselves the worthy successors of Totti, Del Piero, and Toni.
However, Lippi has tried to balance the desire for renovation with the need for stability. In the process, he has put together a squad which lays the foundations for the future. Many of these players could still be internationals in four years' time.
It might not fit with the accepted wisdom on Italy but this is a bold new blue which is heading to South Africa in pursuit of glory. Lazy pundits should take note.
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