The spectre of the 2015 World Cup must drive the Wallabies to get their spring tour back on track. Adam Ashley-Cooper says there is too much at stake and too few chances to gain experience against northern hemisphere teams to allow Australia's dismal performance against England to define the rest of their tour.
"It is so important for us ... if you're looking long term, there's only so much time before the 2015 World Cup," the 88-Test veteran said. "Tours like this overseas are key in terms of being able to win on the road, in these conditions, in the UK and Europe."
With one opportunity already lost to snatch the mental upper hand against fellow Pool A opponents England, Wales lay in wait at the other end of the tour.
Players were at a loss to explain the Wallabies' endless growing pains in the aftermath of their performance at Twickenham.
John Eales medallist Michael Hooper said it was "frustrating" that the team's growing connection off the field was not being translated into cohesion on it.
Ashley-Cooper said poor handling continued to let down the Wallabies but there was a broad feeling the game was theirs to win on Saturday. Even the coach, Ewen McKenzie, found it hard to conceal his dissatisfaction. "It's just genuinely hard work at the moment," McKenzie said after the match.
Hard work with little reward, for the team or their fans. Hooper had few answers the morning after, before the replay-and-review process.
"We get along well as a group but we need that feeling to come out on the field," he said. "We've got so much talent there, it's exciting, but the fact that we're not getting it for the 80 minutes is what's frustrating. Every game we think we can do it and it's just not there at the moment."
Italy present an important opportunity and a huge challenge. There is a shot at redemption against the world's 12th ranked Test side, plus the chance to right the ship with the lion's share of matches still to come on tour.
But redemption won't come easily. Hooper remembers walking off the field in Florence last year feeling utterly "battered". Italy have not been easy-beats for the Wallabies in recent years. Last year's 22-19 nail-biter confirmed it.
"I've only played them once but it was really physical, they're tough at ruck time, I remember them being really abrasive there," Hooper said."We had a cracker of a first half and then in the second half we got belted and were defending for the rest of the game. They throw the ball around a bit and there are loads of offloads in the tackle, so you have to be ready for that."
The Wallabies have homework to do around the breakdown. Scott Fardy, effective in that area during the Rugby Championship, was forced into damage control against England after referee George Clancy warned his captain, Ben Mowen. Fardy adapted quickly and the penalties dried up, but England five-eighth Owen Farrell's patchy kicking during the first half was a key reason for the harm minimisation.