In Florence, not all goalless draws are created equal. A share of the spoils with most teams visiting the Stadio Artemio Franchi might be a source of frustration and regret. Against Juventus, however, and especially after two defeats in a row to start their season, this one was priceless.
If a point against their bitter rivals was manna from heaven for the fledgling Rocco Commisso era at the Viola, it will have been the cause of irritation to Juventus with Maurizio Sarri making his first appearance on the bench. To add injury to insult, Douglas Costa and Miralem Pjanic limped off hurt, leaving their hands tied in terms of substitutions in this game - and possibly greater selection headaches to come. That was the bitter cherry on a pretty unappetising cake for the Bianconeri all told.
Vincenzo Montella - under pressure for his job according to some quarters - tinkered with his team and formation with a 3-4-1-2 that definitely worked out well overall. A defensive trio of Martin Caceres, Nikola Milenkovic and German Pezzella had the right mix of quality and rugged determination to handle the finest Italy has to offer. It also appeared to get the best out of Gaetano Castrovilli, earning him a glowing comparison with Giancarlo Antognoni from his manager - the highest praise possible in the Tuscan capital.
And then there was a first start for Franck Ribery in front of his new fans, which went pretty well for the Frenchman. Some of his interplay with Federico Chiesa and neat footwork seemed to bode well for the season ahead. It was no surprise, however, that on a baking hot day he could muster not much more than an hour’s effort.
The big regret, of course, will be that they couldn’t quite turn the quality of their performance into a victory or - at the very least - a goal. That was something that their Coach was keen to highlight at the full-time whistle. It is all very well to earn plaudits, but it is quite nice to put the ball in the net too.
From the Turin giants’ point of view, the universal consensus was that this was a brutta Juve - an ugly Juventus - for much of the match. Those injuries hampered their efforts and the suffocating heat appeared to take its toll on the older team.
Nonetheless, La Vecchia Signora has made a habit of finding a way to win matches like this over the years, which she was unable to discover on Saturday afternoon. It’s not an alarm bell, yet, but it will be the subject of some discussion among the powers that be at the club for sure.
These are early days, of course, and there is no need to panic but the first indications are that it will take time for the Sarri age to deliver the attractive, attacking football it was designed for. With all the extenuating circumstances of the heat and injuries, there were few flashes of such spectacle in Florence. Some might be a little bit nostalgic for the more pragmatic ways of old.
For both sides, we will need a bigger sample size before we come to any serious conclusions. Fiorentina have looked good - without winning - against two of Serie A’s biggest teams, but flopped badly when asked to grind out something away to Genoa. If they can turn some of their entertaining football into goals - and results - they could yet have a memorable season. However, they will need to prove they can deliver quality displays against lower level opposition before their new owner can really have reason for his trademark smile.
As for Juve, nobody seriously thought they could undergo such a major coaching transition without some growing pains. There is work to be done to establish the proper pecking order in a squad so packed with talent and the best system and team selections to make it function.
Nobody who has watched Italian football for any length of time would doubt their ability to come out on top in the long-run. But, for now, this result will have given the Bianconeri’s main league rivals hope. Neutrals can dream that we might have a proper battle for the Scudetto at long last.