"Botta e risposta," read Sunday night's top headline on Tuttosport.com – "Punch and counterpunch". Above it were two pictures of Carlos Tevez, looking understandably unimpressed as he reclined on a sofa to show off four dark red holes in his right ankle. There had been no literal fisticuffs involved here, of course; such damage could have been done only by the studs on another player's boot.
But the photos had been deployed by Tevez as a metaphorical jab at Torino, when he posted them on Twitter earlier that evening. His club, Juventus, had been trading blows with their city rivals all afternoon.
Their bout nominally began at lunchtime, when the season's first Derby della Mole kicked off. The first half was devoid of footballing haymakers. Aligned in matching 3-5-2 formations, both teams concentrated on maintaining their shape and avoiding mistakes. Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Garlando commented that: "A conference about prime numbers would have been more exciting."
The only incident was the foul that caused Tevez's injury, Ciro Immobile crashing into the striker recklessly from behind. With his boot off the ground and no hope of winning the ball, the Torino forward was fortunate to receive only a booking, although Tevez was able to carry on after treatment.
In the second half Juventus gradually forced the Granata on to the ropes, probing their rivals' defences. And in the 54th minute they found a way through, Paul Pogba nodding the ball home from close range after Leonardo Bonucci's header from a corner was diverted on to the crossbar by Tevez.
The Argentinian, though, had been in an offside position. Torino had suffered a low blow but the officials had missed it; the goal stood, and Juventus went on to win 1-0. It was the second time in as many games that the champions had benefited from a poor offside decision, their 2-1 win over Chievo on Wednesday having been greatly helped by a strike being wrongly disallowed for their opponents..
Antonio Conte argued that his team had deserved their victory on Sunday anyway. "Sometimes decisions go against you, sometimes for you," said the Juventus manager. "If there had been a red card [for Immobile], then Torino would have played the whole game with 10 men and I don't know how it would have finished.
"But you also have to work from the assumption that when a team has the ball for 70 minutes and attacks with it, they will inevitably have more opportunities – including questionable ones. When your opponents don't ever get into your area, it's hard for such incidents to break in their favour."
Torino were not so impressed with Conte's sums. Not long after he had spoken, a statement was published on their club website under the headline: But how is Conte counting?
"You have to ask yourself what abacus Conte was using to measure possession, given that the statistics published on the Lega Calcio's website showed Juventus with 52% possession compared to Torino's 48%," it read. "Juventus's superiority really was not all that overwhelming …
"The truth is that Juventus won the derby 1-0 and that 1-0 was coloured by a very obvious offside. The rest is just pointless chatter. Conte was clearly much better at Italian in school than he was at mathematics."
Rather than defend their manager, Juventus's media team decided to take that ball and run with it. "It's true we're not much good at maths," they tweeted from the official team account, "But we can get as high as 0, the number of shots on goal that @TorinoFC_1906 had!" A link was included to a piece on their own club site, which described Gigi Buffon as a "non-paying spectator".
Soon after, Tevez posted the photos of his injury. "We always win because of the help we get," read his accompanying comment. "I guess that's why I'm now in this condition. And only a yellow card for the person who nearly broke my ankle."
Despite the odd wry chuckle at the respective PR departments' wit, it all added up to an unedifying spectacle for both teams. The debates over the various contentious refereeing decisions in this match will doubtless drag on for days, although it is certainly clear that the goal should not have stood. And simple dominance does not earn you the "right" to a victory, as Juventus have already discovered this season in Copenhagen.
On the other hand, Torino's failure to generate a shot on target certainly came as a disappointment to their fans. The Granata have not won this derby since 1995, nor even scored in one since 2002, but hopes were high that this was the moment to put an end to such statistics. Juventus had conceded in each of their previous five games across all competitions, while Alessio Cerci's scintillating form had helped Torino to score six goals in their last three.
Their manager, Giampiero Ventura, had given us advanced warning of his cautious gameplan, saying: "If I have [Mike] Tyson opposite me, then I'm going to try to play him at draughts, not trade punches". But even board game players need to know how to launch an offensive at some stage.
Nor, if the truth be told, are Juventus playing with much of a Tyson-esque swagger. The Bianconeri do sit joint second, alongside Napoli and just two points behind Roma, but four of their five victories in Serie A have come by a single goal.
Conte's rotation policy has come under scrutiny, with Andrea Pirlo substituted twice already this season and seeming to react badly to it – heading straight down the tunnel after being withdrawn against Verona. The manager promptly introduced a new team rule that requires substituted players to sit on the bench and watch the remainder of a game unless given leave to do otherwise.
Pirlo, who did not even make it off the bench on Sunday, has not made the brightest of starts but the speculation that he might not extend his contract past the end of this year is likely overblown. Conte is blessed with strong options in central midfield, and this has been a congested start to the campaign, with fixtures coming thick and fast for teams in continental competition.
"It's clear that without Pirlo we lose a little quality," he said on Sunday, "but we need to rotate; we want to carry on right to the end of every competition."
Pirlo is expected to start on Wednesday against Galatasaray, though it remains to be seen if Tevez will make it. Conte is well aware of the game's importance. After drawing away to Copenhagen in their opening Champions League fixture, it does not take to be a great mathematician to understand how valuable three points could be to Juve's cause.
• Francesco Totti celebrated his 37th birthday on Friday with one of the best cakes you will ever see . Two days later, Roma continued their incredible start to the campaign by hammering Bologna 5-0. Totti was in fine form, teeing up two of the goals, but the consensus was that the man of the match was Gervinho, who scored twice and terrorised these opponents with his direct running. Has Rudi Garcia already reinvigorated the career of a man who did so well for him at Lille? Maybe. Certainly it seems no more implausible than the notion that Roma could score 17 goals in their first six games while conceding just the one. The Giallorossi had never even begun a season with five consecutive wins before Wednesday. The next two rounds will provide a sterner test of this team's mettle, however – taking them to San Siro to face Inter next Sunday, then back home to host Napoli after the international break.
• Fabio Liverani's first management job at the senior level lasted just six games, the 37-year-old getting the hook in Genoa following their 2-0 defeat at home to Napoli. His team had collected four points thus far, their only win being the 3-0 rout of Sampdoria in the derby. In his place arrives Gian Piero Gasperini, who is expected to sign a three-year contract on Monday, and who managed the club between 2006 and 2010. He is reported not to have spoken to the Genoa owner, Enrico Preziosi, since their somewhat acrimonious split, but both parties have seen their fortunes take a turn for the worse since they parted ways.
• The arrival of Valter Birsa from Genoa did not go down all that well with Milan's fans this summer, the signing of a player who had failed to hold down a regular spot while on loan at Torino last season being considered emblematic of an underwhelming transfer campaign. He might just have won over one or two new admirers by scoring the winner against Sampdoria on Tuesday, in a game that otherwise might easily have finished as a goalless stalemate between uninspired teams.
• A note of warning for Arsenal fans before the Champions League game with Napoli on Tuesday: after beating Genoa this weekend, the Partenopei have now scored 16 goals in seven games across all competitions. No one has yet kept a clean sheet against them.
• Sassuolo must be wishing that they had played Inter sooner. Since being humiliated 7-0 by the Nerazzurri, Eusebio Di Francesco's side have drawn with Napoli and now Lazio. Sassuolo do still find themselves joint-last in the table, moving level with Sampdoria after their previous fellow basement-dwellers, Catania, got their first win of the campaign at home to Chievo.
• Verona defeated Livorno 2-1 in a match-up between the two remaining newly-promoted clubs. The star of the show was the 20-year-old Argentinian whirlwind Juan Iturbe, who opened the scoring with a glorious free-kick from distance and effectively set up the winner – sending over the cross which prompted Pasquale Schiattarella to lean into Luca Toni and give away a (somewhat generous) penalty. Switching from trequartista out to the wings and back on his first senior start, Iturbe was raw and at times selfish in possession, but too naturally gifted to be ignored. His development will be fun to watch.
Results Atalanta 2-0 Udinese, Cagliari 1-1 Inter, Catania 2-0 Chievo, Genoa 0-2 Napoli, Milan 1-0 Sampdoria, Roma 5-0 Bologna, Sassuolo 2-2 Lazio, Torino 0-1 Juventus, Verona 2-1 Livorno.