Cesare Prandelli turned to Gigi Buffon with a smile. It is two years since Italy's goalkeeper summed up the pessimism surrounding the national team by saying that they would not even qualify for Euro 2012. "And I remember thinking," Prandelli said, "are you sure?"
Buffon was wrong but now that the Italians are here, their presence has been overshadowed by a betting scandal. Their first game is against Spain, the world and European champions, who knocked them out of Euro 2008.
And yet the smile said much. So did the fact that the Italians opened their entire training session to the media rather than the regulation 15 minutes. If there is a surprise in store, it has already been prepared.
"We have tried many options which might be new to you but not to us," Prandelli said, letting a little intrigue linger. "We have talked about the line-up for days [but] everyone still has a chance of making the team."
The atmosphere was relaxed and confident. Asked how he felt going into his first major tournament, Prandelli responded: "I slept well last night."
When Italy first got together, Spain had not even named their squad and nine of those players who would make it were still involved in domestic action with the final of the Copa del Rey.
The Italy coach has had time to prepare ways of preventing Spain's possession being converted into chances. He intends to flood a deep-lying midfield and deny them space. Daniele De Rossi, who is set to play in the middle of a back five, will be a key figure.
"De Rossi is totally convinced about his ability to play centre-back," Prandelli said. "He has played there for Roma and if he had to play in this position he won't simply be a defender but a defensive midfielder. We want to use him in this position because during the match we could make tactical changes.
"We have to prepare the match according to our characteristics. We are fully aware we have a good team and if we pull together we can be really competitive. We want to keep Spain away from our penalty area. If they get there they'll create difficulties."
It will be down to Andrea Pirlo to give the Italians fluency. A Serie A champion with Juventus having been considered past it at Milan, Pirlo is one of those players for whom the Spanish have the greatest admiration. This is a game that has been presented in Spain as clash of cultures, almost a battle between good and evil. Pirlo is seen as the exception: the most Spanish of the Italians.
He added: "If [Spain do close down Pirlo], it will mean that we are playing well. And if there are difficulties of that kind of course we have tried some different tactics."
Up front, Prandelli knows Italy need to find the goals that have evaded them of late. Much will rest on Mario Balotelli.
At one point Prandelli had admitted that he did not know whether he could trust the Manchester City striker. Balotelli, in turn, was open in his desperation to play at these championships. Now he is Italy's greatest hope.
"As far as the management of Balo is concerned, it's always difficult for 21-year-old guys, especially those who want to show their value," Prandelli said. "But he has behaved in a really professional way in the last few weeks. Mario has to be aware that he's very important to the team.
"If he plays for the team then he'll be very important to us. We already asked Balotelli and other players to be generous with each other. It needs to be a game where they play for each other and for the fans. We need to give everything on the pitch."
Buffon, in the national team since 1997, was asked what advice he would give the striker. "None," he said. "He is a player of pure talent, one of the very few that can win a game for you on his own. I don't need to tell him anything. He is young and it is normal for him to make mistakes occasionally.
"The most important thing is that he learns from them. Off the pitch [with Italy], he has always behaved the right way."