You wouldn't tell by looking at Juventus, with their well-oiled striking force of Ibrahimovic, Trezeguet aided by the invaluable support of Patrick Vieira - just what Juve needed, someone scoring from midfield - but the Serie A goalscoring charts are again being dominated by Italian players, as they were last year when Cristiano Lucarelli was Italy's version of the Pichichi with 24 goals, trailed by Alberto Gilardino's 23, Vincenzo Montella's 21 and Luca Toni's 20.
This year, five of seven are again Italians, although it should be pointed out that one of them, Palermo's Christian Terlizzi, is a central defender who's already netted four times by being in the right place at the right time - and man marked by dummies - on set pieces.
Italy's U21 national manager Claudio Gentile may have been wise in raising the alarm about the disappearance of coaches who can teach man-to-man marking in the youth systems, which in his opinion is breeding a whole generation of defenders who have trouble spending the whole game in their opponents' shirts as a certain - er - Claudio Gentile used to do, and the Serie A is surely not the heaven of suffocating defences anymore, but there's more than sheer defensive inadequacy to the rise in prominence of Italian strikers.
Again, Juve seem to be doing just fine without them, and not one of Inter's top four strikers (Adriano, Martins, Cruz, Recoba) was even born in the northern hemisphere, but look elsewhere, to Milan for example, and Andriy Shevchenko is the odd man our of a threesome of Gilardino, Christian Vieri and Pippo Inzaghi, although the latter is only now coming back after a long spell out with an injury and Vieri, for those who look past the mellifluous, sycophantic tones used by most of the press during the summer in depicting him as 'reborn' and 'in the best shape for years', has looked cumbersome and profligate in front of goal, just as he did in his last season on the other side of town.
The former home of the dull game - we might as well had 'land of the goalless draw' on our license plates - has now turned into a free-for-all: whether it's because of defensive incompentence or offensive prowess, it matters little once we get back to the subject of how Italian strikers have been getting most of the headlines of late. And none has received more attention this year than Luca Toni, the Serie A's top scorer so far with six goals.
Toni touched the moon by scoring three goals for Italy in their 4-1 win in Belarus last month, but his real value is measured by his succulent stats of the last two seasons.
He scored 30 goals in leading Palermo up to the Serie A in 2003-04 then had 20 last year, as the Sicilian side reached sixth place. Your typical up-and-coming youngster? Hardly so. Toni is already 28 and his elevation to starter for the azzurri has come so late it's looking like Germany 2006 will be his first and only chance to play in an international tournament.
Marcello Lippi gave him his debut in his first game in charge, a disappointing 2-0 defeat in Iceland on August 18 last year, then brought him off the bench in the crucial home match against Norway a fortnight later and was vindicated by Toni's winner, a slight touch which deflected in a left wing cross. The venue? Palermo's Stadio Barbera, which went wild as the local hero sent Italy on their way to a group lead they never relinquished.
A little more than one year later, a good chunk of the disappointing 20,000 crowd which witnessed Italy clinch their ticket to the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Slovenia last Saturday left no doubt as to their feelings towards Toni by jeering his every move and booing him when he missed a good goalscoring chance with a few minutes left.
An extraordinary twist of fate for someone who would probably have loved to have been jeered, or cheered or even noticed, by anyone, as recently as eight years ago, when, after a bad spell of form for Fiorenzuola, a Serie C1 side, he told his then-fiancee he'd quit football and get a proper job if things didn't change.
At the time, Toni had a reputation for being a far from prolific goalscorer saddled with slow feet and a lumbering body, but a move across Italy to Lodigiani Roma brought 15 goals in 31 matches and in 1999 he joined Treviso in Serie B.
The world missed out on a potential estate agent or truck driver and gained a real footballer, then - and repaid their confidence in him by again scoring 15 times, which in turn triggered another upwards movement, this time to Vicenza, in the top flight. Nine goals in 31 matches were not enough to save the side from relegation, but by this time scouts had seen there was more in Toni than just height - 194 centimetres, a good 6'4" - and jumping ability: the fellow had good control and could hit the ball adequately even with his less favourite left foot.
After scoring 13 in 28 games for Brescia (Serie A), he injured his left knee during pre-season and netted only twice in 16 games, but Palermo had seen enough to believe he was the man to lead them back up. It all now seems so distant as Toni has metamorphosed into the most important player in coach Cesare Prandelli's mission to restore Fiorentina as a Serie A powerhouse.
The viola were arguably playing the division's most entertaining football before the international break, are tied with Milan in second place five points behind Juventus and are leading the goalscoring charts with 14 goals in six matches, although the goal-against columns tells a worrying tale of 9 and everything you need to know about the precarious tactical balance Prandelli is trying to amend.
Not that anyone is worried: with only a handful of betters and die-hards believing Fiorentina can actually win the title, third place would be a huge results for the viola after last year's struggle.
Toni is, of course, a good reason why fans are hoping for a great season and perhaps a couple of upset wins or two: whether Prandelli plays a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2, the only fixture up front is Toni, who's been partnered so far by young Bulgarian Valery Bojinov or another Italian rising star, Gianpaolo Pazzini, tipped by some to gain his first international cap within a couple of years.
With his height, good control and a tendency to let opponents know he's not there for the taking - flailing elbows and all, he's whistled for a lot of offensive fouls - he's one of those forwards coaches can count on to lead the line by themselves, as he barely needs a partner to be effective.
Spending a lot of time on buses to and from school and practice as a teenager while living in the mountains near the northern town of Modena where he was born then literally falling asleep exhausted at the dinner table in the evening, spending six years in the lower divisions and making his Serie A debut at the relatively late age of 23 have all made Toni appreciate his good life now more, but his better days could be ahead of him if he continues to score at this rate, helped by Fiorentina's attacking style, and he holds on to a starting job with Italy.
He may even be able to help heal the long-running rift between the Fiorentina fans and the national team: Italy's national training centre is in Coverciano, on the outskirts of Florence, but the azzurri have not played in town since January 20, 1993, when a friendly match against Mexico was marred by the sight of a half-empty stadium, and most of those who were there were jeering the team because, in essence, it represented the Italian Federation and the Italian League who had apparently mistreated Fiorentina for too long.
Add that feelings hardly cooled when Fiorentina was sent down to the Serie C2 for bankruptcy in 2002, add that it takes some guts just to say a good word about Juventus in Florence, and that Juve have traditionally had a few players wearing the azzurri shirt (plus a former coach in Lippi), and you can better understand why the federation itself has given the Stadio Franch a wide berth for twelve years.
With Toni leading the line, though, there is a (slight) chance someone with a deep passion for the Viola may actually cheer the next time Italy scores a goal, even if it does not come from the tall guy with the floppy hair and the distinctive goal celebration - fingers flexed, right hand raised close to the ear and rotating back and forth as if to say 'listen to what I've got to say' - who matured later than some of his rivals for the goalscoring charts but has been making up for lost time with the kind of speed no one had ever associated with his game.