Roberto Mancini and Marco Verratti were united in their belief that Italy missed an opportunity as wasteful finishing saw them held to a 0-0 draw in Poland on Sunday.
Although the Azzurri were the dominant force for much of the contest in Gdansk and created some fine chances, they could not get the all-important goal.
Federico Chiesa, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Emerson Palmieri all spurned clear-cut openings, while Andrea Belotti – the striker chosen to lead the line – endured a quiet evening.
As such, Italy were unable to take a three-point lead at the top of Nations League Group A1. Defeat to the Netherlands this coming Wednesday would see them overtaken.
Mancini told reporters: "Against Poland we have always been on the attack. This is a missed opportunity.
"The pitch was in poor condition and the ball bounced badly, but I'm not looking for excuses: we should have ended the first half with at least a one-goal advantage.
"This is a balanced group, which will be decided in the last games. Poland is an excellent team, they have great champions in attack and other very good players.
"Two years ago they put us in difficulty. We are happy with the progress we have made. We want to improve further and games like tonight are part of our path, even if the draw is harsh."
Verratti was similarly frustrated, but he attempted to put a positive spin on it, adamant Italy were excellent aside from a failure in front of goal.
"We go home with a bitter taste," the Paris Saint-Germain star added.
"I agree that the pitch was difficult and made a certain type of game difficult for us. But we still had a great match – we just lacked the goal."