Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero got off to a losing start with his new Australian club as Sydney FC crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand on Saturday.
World Cup winner Del Piero, on a reported Aus$2 million ($2.04 million) a season, was one of the few positives as the two-time A-League champions struggled against Phoenix in wintry Wellington.
The 37-year-old Juventus legend tried to get the spluttering Sydney attacks going, but despite a couple of scoring chances Del Piero was a lone spark.
Sydney looked very disjointed coming on the back of a disrupted pre-season preparation with injuries and a couple of match cancellations badly affecting their cohesion.
Goals by new Belgian striker Stein Huysegems in the 43rd minute and youngster Louis Fenton 15 minutes from time gave Phoenix their fifth straight win over the better-resourced Sydney team.
Del Piero, with 91 international appearances for Italy, had a great scoring chance in the 14th minute after eluding his marker with deft footwork only to fire over the bar.
He was given a 'welcome' to the Australian competition when he was clattered to the ground in a over-physical challenge from Ben Sigmund in the 39th minute before the Italian star presented Mitchell Mallia with a scoring opportunity only for the youngster to miss his chance.
Del Piero had another chance to grab his debut A-League goal after beautifully beating two defenders only to fire just wide of the right post.
Del Piero will get his next chance in Sydney FC's first match at home against Emile Heskey's Newcastle Jets next weekend.
Japan's three-time World Cup star Shinji Ono was due to make his debut with competition newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers against Central Coast Mariners later Saturday.