Giampaolo Pazzini believes Inter can get back into the title race with a win over Milan later this month.
The Nerazzurri will return to action at the weekend against Parma before taking on their city rivals in a San Siro showdown in Week 18.
“The derby could be our springboard for 2012,” the Italian international told the Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday.
“By beating Milan we would be back in the race. We’ll have to treat that encounter as if it will be the biggest game of the year.”
Inter have won six of their last seven games in Serie A, but they are still eight points adrift of co-leaders Milan and Juventus.
Pazzini, who scored 19 goals in 2011, is also hopeful that he could taste success in the summer with the Italian national side.
“The Italy team deserve an 8.5 out of 10 for the year,” he continued. “Boss Cesare Prandelli has done well to bring new things to the side.
“There is enthusiasm, important footballing ideas and he’s been able to create a great squad that makes more of a difference than single players.
“We could do well in the summer too which may force some to re-think their judgements of Italy as an outsider for Euro 2012.”