The best is yet to come, according to Inter Milan head coach Andrea Stramaccioni, as the Nerazzurri bid to make a convincing start to the new year with victory at Udinese.
Stramaccioni's men spent much of the autumn hot on the heels of reigning Serie A champions and league leaders Juventus, but defeat at Lazio and a disappointing home draw with Genoa left Inter nine points adrift on Christmas Day.
Nevertheless, Stramaccioni remains enthusiastic, telling the Corriere dello Sport: ``Now comes the fun part.
``I ended the year by congratulating my boys based on how we well had laid the foundation for this project.
``We arrived at the halfway point in good shape. We want to be protagonists both in Italy and in Europe and are working hard to do so.
``We want to put that little bit of bad luck behind us and move forward with our heads held high.''
Striker Tommaso Rocchi has arrived from Lazio to bolster Inter's renewed push for the Scudetto, while Stramaccioni struggles to manage a long injury list.
Midfielders Philippe Coutinho, Gaby Mudingayi, Dejan Stankovic and Ricky Alvarez are all on the treatment table, with defender Andrea Ranocchia suspended as the future of World Cup runner-up Wesley Sneijder remains in the balance.
Reports surfaced linking the Dutch playmaker to Barclays Premier League strugglers QPR this week, but Sneijder's agent Soren Lerby was quick to rule out any switch to Loftus Road.
``He is definitely not interested in QPR,'' he told Gazzetta.it. ``We have heard nothing directly from that club. England has probably the best league in Europe, so going there could be a happy solution.
``But Wes wants to play for a top team.''
Despite some inconsistent results from the early exchanges, Udinese finished 2012 much as they started it, in impressive fashion.
A four-match unbeaten run saw the Bianconeri end the year in 10th place, and head coach Francesco Guidolin is confident of booking a European place for a third season in a row.
He told La Repubblica: ``2012 was great, especially the first six months in which we managed to finish third in the league.
``We are playing the way I like and we are hitting my original targets. I think the second half of the season could be much better than the first.''
Midfielder Alexander Merkel could make his debut following his part-exchange transfer from Genoa, which saw striker Antonio Floro Flores move in the opposite direction.
The recent history of this fixture favours Inter, who have claimed nine points from the last 12 made available to them at the Stadio Friuli.