Like steam from a piping hot plate of pasta, it is amazing how quickly confidence can disappear. If you had asked me a few weeks ago about Italian clubs' Champions League performances I would have been much more bullish. At the end of the group stages, however, it felt much harder to say if my grappa glass was half-full or half-empty.
You see - like a competitor on 1980s darts quiz show Bullseye - Serie A had a tantalising glimpse of what it could have won. A qualification clean sweep - four out of four in the first season back with such representation - was within their grasp. Then, suddenly, it all slipped away more easily than Mo Salah being marked by Mario Rui.
A first warning sign of how quickly the bubble of bravado can be burst came from Italy's biggest and best. Over two matches, Juve dominated Manchester United and yet suffered a rare defeat in Turin. It would not be fatal for their prospects, of course, but it should have served as a warning to others. This particular English lesson, sadly, was not learned.
It was Inter, poor old Inter, who first proved they had failed to read the runes. With qualification at their mercy, Luciano Spalletti's side came to England and were outsmarted by Spurs to put their progress in doubt. They completed the deal with a spectacular failure to outperform the Premiership side in a home game with PSV while the Londoners travelled to Barcelona. This was not Pazza Inter, Crazy Inter, it was more Downright Infuriating Inter.
You had to feel a bit more sympathy for Napoli but one draw too many left them in a sticky situation for their trip to Anfield. Carlo Ancelotti's side were undefeated before their final game and had produced some lovely football, but again found crossing the Channel a step too far. A spirited last 20 minutes or so was insufficient to get the result they needed and they, too, fell by the wayside. The competition will lack a little dash of peperoncino spice in their absence.
It is not all doom and gloom, of course, as Roma proved you can still progress even in defeat. If Napoli and Inter were unfortunate in the way their groups panned out, the Giallorossi did enjoy a splash of luck from other results. Make no mistake, Eusebio Di Francesco's side had earned their progress, but when their rivals started tripping one another up it did make their task a little simpler. They have time now to sort things out, but thus far in the competition they have looked a shadow of the side that thrilled us so much last season.
And, of course, there was Juventus - who have started to seem like a law unto themselves in Calcio terms. Juventus Stadium slip-up and a meaningless trip to Young Boys aside, the Bianconeri were impeccable in their group matches and underlined their credentials as would-be winners. It all started with a red card for Ronaldo in Valencia, but might it end with him picking up the trophy in - of all places - Madrid? He will no doubt believe it is his destiny to do so.
Drawing overall conclusions for Serie A is always a tricky task, but it would seem fair to say that - apart from its grand Old Lady - it is still short on Champions League quality.
Deep down it is hard to avoid the feeling that the Europa League might be more the level of our continental representatives outside of the boys in black and white. There was something there to build on that we glimpsed at times but not, ultimately, with enough consistency to get more than half of the Italian teams through. We had some magic moments, but in the end, they failed to deliver the 100 per cent qualification that was a genuine possibility at one stage.
Having had a bottle of Barolo in our hands, we have had to settle for a disappointing house red. And that can only leave a bit of a bitter taste, no matter how full your glass may be.