After a much-needed interval for Christmas, underperforming Juventus resume their faltering Scudetto defence against Udinese on Sunday evening.
A shocking 3-0 reverse against Fiorentina saw the Old Lady end last year on a sour note, while Luca Gotti's visiting side went three games without a win to finish 2020 in mid-table - but with relegation concerns still lingering.
Despite only losing their unbeaten record in Serie A just before the break, crestfallen Juventus are experiencing one of the worst seasonal starts of Andrea Agnelli's presidential reign - with rookie coach Andrea Pirlo picking up 11 points fewer than the much-maligned Maurizio Sarri managed at the same stage last year.
Pirlo's team now have a record of 24 points from 13 games, after three points they were awarded due to Napoli not fulfilling a previous fixture (following a COVID-19 outbreak) were rescinded at the third appeal.
Effectively, that outcome meant that Juve lost six points to the Milan clubs in a single day, when they were picked off by unlikely conquerors Fiorentina late last month.
Juan Cuadrado's reckless early dismissal left Cristiano Ronaldo and company with over an hour of toil ahead of them, as a frustrated Aaron Ramsey was sacrificed for defensive cover at the Allianz Stadium. Despite staying in contention for most of the game, a humbling defeat ultimately left them down in sixth at the year's end.
That aberration aside, a record of six wins and six draws beforehand tells the tale of the season so far for Pirlo's men and - even in the presence of forwards such as Ronaldo,Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala- Juventus have failed to kill off several so-called lesser teams.
Only victory will suffice for under-pressure Pirlo and company on Sunday night, as Juventus must embark on a long winning run in pursuit of their 10th successive Scudetto.
With the defence back to full strength - and perhaps even strengthened in the enforced absence of Cuadrado - Juve can shut out the 'other' Bianconeri and secure maximum points on home turf.
Final Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Udinese