Italy general manager Marco Bollesan has hailed his side's "best ever start" to the RBS 6 Nations Championship despite watching them extend their losing run in the competition to nine matches.
The Azzurri went down 31-16 in Rome after a battling performances against world champions England on Saturday, seven days after an equally combative display on the way to a 26-16 loss in Ireland on the opening weekend.
The team looked far more confident than they have in recent seasons, even holding the lead in both games before tiring late on.
Bollesan was nevertheless buoyant, saying: "This has been our best start ever, even if we have been defeated twice.
"We have showed great rugby, with a stiff defence and good attacking combination. We need to be a little more concentrated at every moment, and be able to play for the whole game."
Italy have not won in the competition since beating Scotland 20-14 in 2004, avoiding the wooden spoon for the second straight year before returning to the foot of the table with five straight defeats last time out.
However, Bollesan is certain better times lie ahead and has warned the Azzurri's remaining three opponents they will fight all the way to avoid finishing last this time.
"This is the beginning. We are young, but strong and ambitious, and we are really looking forward to the remaining three games," he said.
"I'm sure we are going to play even better than now, so our opponents must be aware of it.
"This Six Nations appears to be very even. All six teams are strong and capable of playing great rugby.
"From my point of view we missed a great chance in Dublin where I saw the Irish get away with a lucky win, and our display against the reigning world champions was great.
"After the game finished, there was lots of interest from the press about our display, so we took another step towards our precious future."
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.