Rome: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli believes that a lack of world-class talent should not preclude the country from achieving impressive results.
Having earned an important 1-0 win in Slovenia last Friday to put them in control of Euro 2012 qualifying Group C, Italy followed that up with a mature 2-0 friendly success in Ukraine on Tuesday.
Those results have come amid an atmosphere of despair in the country, with many lamenting the lack of talented youngsters coming through the ranks.
But the national team coach believes that collectivity is the key to international achievement and he says the gloom is being lifted.
"The climate is more serene now, the post-World Cup pessimism has disappeared," he told Italian news agency Ansa.
"The criticism made us give something extra. My personal satisfaction comes from seeing a group of players who play as a team, who know how to play.
"Everyone said we were dead but instead we're alive. We can still be a great team even without great players, although we do have some, starting with (goalkeeper Gianluigi) Buffon."
The one player in his squad who many in Italy believe to be a great talent is AC Milan's Antonio Cassano, although he appears overweight and out of shape.
Prandelli still picked him against Slovenia but warned the 28-year-old that he would be a better player if he had the physique to match his ability.
"He knows how to take responsibility for himself but if that was backed up by great conditioning, he would also be incisive," said the coach.