Torino prepare for the visit of Udinese on Saturday aiming to claw back some ground on a key bottom-half rival after a disastrous derby climax last week sees them still stuck in the Serie A relegation zone.
The Granata are 18th in the standings - with just six points from 10 games - while their visitors' total of 10 points from nine leaves them sitting four places higher with a game in hand, due to a late postponement last weekend.
Torino's strong start against Juventus - with Nicolas N'Koulou scoring an early goal and bustling striker Simone Zaza almost notching a second - was undermined by yet another late implosion, as their city rivals once again sealed Derby della Mole victory through Leonardo Bonucci's 89th-minute strike.
Il Toro have already effectively 'lost' 19 points from winning positions in the current league season - a very much unwanted record in the history of Serie A after 10 games played. It is an all-too-familiar story for their long-suffering fans, as in the 2019-20 campaign the Granata gave up 27 points after going ahead in the first instance.
There is certainly no secret as to why Marco Giampaolo's embattled side have endured such struggles, because no team has conceded more goals than Torino in Italy's top flight this season - 24 in total, at a shocking average of nearly two-and-a-half per game.
The litany of gloom continues as they build up to what could be a crucial clash with their Friulian counterparts this week, as Torino have now only won one of their last 15 league games dating back to last season and they are winless in their past seven home games too - the last time the Granata registered a longer home streak without win was back in 2003.
Star man Andrea Belotti has netted seven goals this season to date, but his rate has notably slowed in recent weeks - just one coming in the past five rounds - as he has had to battle against an inflamed knee. His input - and that of returning creator Sasa Lukic from COVID-19 infection - will be essential if they are to overcome a well-rested opponent on Saturday.
Udinese have not enjoyed their recent sojourns to Stadio Olimpico di Torino though, having only won one of their last nine league encounters against Turin's second side in total and losing three consecutive away games there without scoring a single goal.
However, winning five of their last nine away league matches - as many as in their previous 33 games on the road in Serie A - under Luca Gotti will have boosted the morale of an improving outfit, who had begun to overcome a long series of injuries and illnesses to start picking up points before another raft of new positive virus tests at the end of November.
Gotti, then, was no doubt relieved in part when their fixture with inconsistent Atalanta was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, though the Zebrette had in fact produced a shock 3-1 win away to Lazio the week before, just shortly after several squad members were forced to quarantine.
Udinese will therefore arrive in Turin with their batteries recharged, which could either be helpful or even a hindrance - in stalling hard-won momentum - as they search for a rare third league win on the spin.
Unlike Torino, the Bianconeri can count on great defensive solidity as - together with Sassuolo - theirs is the third-best defensive record in the league so far and they have conceded only one goal in their last three Serie A games.
Stalwarts Samir, Bram Nuytinck and Rodrigo Becao are generally no-frills members of Gotti's back three and often prove a significant threat in the opposition penalty box. Keeping Azzurri striker Belotti quiet will be their aim, as their enterprising colleagues in attack focus on the seemingly straightforward task of slicing through the home defence like a hot knife through butter.
Torino Serie A form: LWDLDL
Torino form (all competitions): WDLWDL
Udinese Serie A form: WLLDWW
Udinese form (all competitions): WLDWLW
Udinese's Gerard Deulofeu - who has struggled since his comeback from serious injury - and Ignacio Pussetto were in line to start against Atalanta and as the club have been unusually opaque with regard to COVID-19 cases, it remains unknown until whether traditional strike pair Kevin Lasagna and Stefano Okaka will be available to start instead.
Roberto Pereyra (like Pussetto, Deulofeu and Okaka, also ex-Watford) now has two consecutive assists after a sluggish start and - alongside star man Rodrigo De Paul - will play in support of the front two in Luca Gotti's XI, from which defenders Thomas Ouwejan and Sebastien de Maio are definitely absent through injury.
This may prompt a switch back to 4-3-1-2 or could alternatively see Lukic play off Andrea Belotti in a 3-5-2, which has been more effective of late - if not in terms of results.
Torino possible starting lineup:
Sirigu; Lyanco, N'Koulou, Bremer; Singo, Linetty, Rincon, Meite, Rodriguez; Belotti, Zaza
Udinese possible starting lineup:
Musso; Becao, Nuytinck, Samir; Larsen, De Paul, Jajalo, Pereyra, Zeegelaar; Pussetto, Forestieri
We say: Torino 1-1 Udinese
Simply unable to hold on to leads or capitalise on promising positions, Torino are a loss or two short of a full-blown crisis - and coach Marco Giampaolo could soon be out of a job.
Udinese, then, should expect to fill their boots in Turin this week, but doubts persist over the availability and fitness of some of their regular starters. A draw is likely to satisfy neither side but is the probable outcome when these sides meet on Saturday evening.