Italy coach Pierre Berbizier admits his team are still on a steep learning curve following their latest RBS 6 Nations defeat.
The Azzurri relinquished a winning position to go down 37-12 to France at the Stade de France on Saturday.
While Berbizier and his team can be proud of their performances in two and a half of the three games they have played in this year's tournament, after caving in in the last 20 minutes against France, the uncomfortable reality is that the Italy could be set to receive yet another dose of the wooden spoon.
Their French coach Berbizier admitted that his team's collapse in the second half shows there is still much work to do.
Berbizier said: "We lost heart when we sensed the match was escaping our grasp."
He identified the third French try - scored by prop Pieter de Villiers - as the turning point of the game and the moment when his team collectively threw in the towel.
"We simply gave up mentally," he added. "I don't think it was a physical problem but more of a mental one.
"The De Villiers try was the breaking point and we were all over the place at the end of the second half.
"We did our jobs well in the first half but in the second half we failed to build on that and to take the necessary pressure off our defence.
"We also failed to eliminate some of the basic mistakes and France took advantage of that."
Italy had made an impressive start to the tournament with a 26-16 defeat in Dublin at the hands of Ireland.
They then gave world champions England a real game at the Stadio Flaminio before losing 31-16 and went into Saturday's match with the sincere belief they could post that long-awaited win on enemy territory.
Leading 12-8 at half-time, it looked as though that objective was within reach but Yannick Nyanga, De Villiers, Aurelien Rougerie and Frederic Michalak then added tries to the one that Thomas Lievremont had scored before the interval to ensure a comprehensive win for the French, who scored all five tries against an Italy team whose points all came from the left boot of fly-half Ramiro Pez.
All of a sudden comes the sober reality that the Azzurri could be set to retain the wooden spoon with only an away match at RBS 6 Nations champions Wales and a home fixture with Scotland to come.
Berbizier admitted his team needed to get the basics right, adding: "When you play at the top level you need to do the simple things well and keep discipline."
While Italy's strengths lie in the forwards division, Berbizier admitted the Azzurri still find it hard to look dangerous in the back division.
"We can't play the beautiful game because we simply can not expose ourselves to the counter-attack that teams like France do so well," said the former France skipper and coach.
"In the first half we had plenty of the ball but did not have the means to convert that into meaningful attack and although we unsettled their defence on occasions we never really got close to scoring a try."
One positive was the performance of stand-off Pez, who continues to show that he is a worthy successor to former Italian talisman Diego Dominguez who, like Pez, was born in the Argentinian city of Cordoba.
"I was pleased with my number 10," said Berbizier. "He dictated the game well but it was harder for him in the second half because he had less of the ball.
"But Ramiro Pez confirmed he is a player of high quality and it's a pity the team did not give him more of the ball in the second half."
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.