John Barclay felt for Mauro Bergamasco when Italy's gamble of playing their talismanic flanker at scrum-half backfired - but that will not stop the Scotland open-side trying to pile on the misery for his opposite number.
Barclay and Bergamasco go head-to-head in the crucial RBS 6 Nations clash at Murrayfield tomorrow.
The Italian had a torrid time at half-back during his country’s opening game against England and the experiment lasted just 40 excruciating minutes.
Glasgow star Barclay said: “Obviously, they just took a risk, a gamble, and the gamble didn’t pay off.
“It’s something that hasn’t worked for them and they’ve gone back to what they know.”
That includes restoring Bergamasco to the number seven jersey, where Barclay knows his opponent is in his element.
The Italian will also be something of an unknown quantity to his rival, who said: “I haven’t played against him but obviously I’ve seen him play quite a bit, from watching Six Nations when I was a bit younger.”
Almost seven years separate 22-year-old Barclay and Bergamasco, who made his Test debut 11 years ago.
There is also a huge gulf in terms of Test experience, with Barclay set to earn his 10th cap tomorrow, while Bergamasco already has 71 to his name.
Yet, Barclay knows winning their personal duel could have a huge bearing on the outcome of a game which has taken on massive significance.
Scotland losing to Italy is a bad enough result at the best of times, a home defeat even worse, but this match with the Azzurri looks destined to decide the fate of the wooden spoon.
Italy have also lost their opening two matches but their recent record against Scotland means they always target this fixture as their best chance of success.
“We know this game was seen by both teams as a game they’re going to win,” said Barclay.
“If we don’t front up, especially in the scrum, line-out and contact then we’ll lose, and I think it’s as simple as that.”
That will not be easy against a pack renowned for their ferocity at the breakdown.
“Up front, they’re always pretty good in the tight five and back row,” Barclay said.
“If we don’t get that right, we’re going to struggle in the game.”
That means matching Italy’s aggression, something that was sorely missing in Scotland’s meek surrender to Wales in their RBS 6 Nations opener but was rediscovered against France two weeks ago.
Asked what changed in the six days between those two games, Barclay said: “It was just the general intensity and attitude we had, which for some reason wasn’t there - if it was nerves or whatever - against Wales.
“But the intensity of everything we did and the enthusiasm we had throughout the game was miles apart from the Welsh game.
“We singled that out as being the bare minimum acceptable.
“We’ve set that base level now at it has to stay there.
“There should be - and there will be - the same attitude and same intensity when we take it to the Italians.”