There are some wounds that time cannot heal. Mostly because everyone keeps picking at them. Fourteen years have passed since Zdenek Zeman sparked a doping investigation with his pointed comments regarding the rapid muscular development of certain Juventus players. The statute of limitations has long since halted the legal battles that followed, but not the squabbling that accompanied them.

Juventus were cleared of any systemic wrongdoing and although the team's doctor, Riccardo Agricola, was initially given a suspended jail sentence he too was absolved on appeal. Zeman, who was managing Roma for the first time when he made his accusations, would be sacked within a year. Ever since he has found work in Serie A only sporadically.

On both sides, a great bitterness prevailed. When Zeman returned to face Juventus as manager of Lecce he was jeered and heckled ferociously, afterwards suggesting that such personal abuse ought to punishable in the same way as racist chanting. As Zeman steered Pescara towards promotion from Serie B last season, the former Juve striker Gianluca Vialli wondered aloud how the manager would feel if someone questioned his team's energy as he had Juve's muscles.

Zeman subsequently dismissed suggestions Juventus should be allowed to wear a third star on their club badge – in recognition of the 30 titles they would now have, had two not been revoked as a consequence of the 2006 Calciopoli scandal. "I can count 22 or 23 [Scudetti]," he declared in mocking tones, inferring that several more might also have been illegitimate.

After the Juventus manager Antonio Conte received a 10-month touchline ban as a consequence of this summer's match-fixing investigations, Zeman protested that his rival should have been suspended from coaching his team throughout the week too. The Juventus patron John Elkann returned fire, noting with satisfaction following victory over Napoli in the pre-season SuperCup that Conte's stand-in, Massimo Carrera, had already won more as a manager than Zeman.

There were fresh barbs as the teams prepared to meet in Turin this week. On Wednesday Zeman failed to shake hands with the Sampdoria manager Ciro Ferrara, a former Juventus player, either before or after their teams' draw at the Stadio Olimpico. Each blamed the other for the omission.

Then, on Friday, Juventus made an unexpected move – sending out the goalkeeping coach Claudio Filippi, instead of Carrera, for the team's pre-match press conference. The official line was that Conte had requested that he and Carrera should take turns with such duties, but Zeman declared himself unimpressed at the handing of an important duty to a less senior figure, calling it "a question of style".

Even without such a backdrop, this might still have been one of the most anticipated fixtures of the Serie A season. Juventus, undefeated in the league since May 2011, had looked vulnerable in a midweek draw with Fiorentina. Roma, for all that they had been undermined by a series of defensive collapses at home under Zeman, had also played scintillating attacking football in patches and demolished Inter at San Siro.

The expectation had been building for months. It was over in a matter of minutes. Eleven had passed when Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring, whipping his free-kick around an ill-formed wall and into the bottom corner of Maarten Stekelenburg's net. After 19, it was 3-0 – Alessandro Matri converting Arturo Vidal's chipped assist. The latter had also scored a penalty in-between.

"Tutti a casa," crowed the home support. Everyone go home, nothing left to see here. Except of course that there was, Juventus gradually easing off as they realised it was safe to conserve energies for their Champions League appointment with Shakhtar Donetsk but still hitting the woodwork three times and adding a fourth goal in injury time through Sebastian Giovinco, after Roma had pulled one back.

It was hard to imagine how the match could have gone any better for the Bianconeri. Following the draw against Fiorentina there was much comment regarding the form and fitness of Andrea Pirlo – with Gazzetta dello Sport, among others, confidently predicting that he would be replaced by Paul Pogba for this game to rest ageing legs which could apparently no longer take the strain of playing in every game.

Instead, left unmarked in Zeman's scheme, he was at the heart of the action, pulling strings with that elegant ease which does so much to elevate his team. Juventus are now without defeat in 45 league games, yet Pirlo's personal unbeaten streak is even more impressive. More than 650 days have passed since he last finished on the losing side of a Serie A match.

As ever with Conte's Juventus, though, this was a triumph of the collective. Praise for Pirlo should do nothing to detract from the prodigious work done by his partners Claudio Marchisio and Vidal. Gazzetta dello Sport felt moved to proclaim the Juventus midfield as "second only to that of Barcelona".

Yet for all Juve's qualities it was hard to escape the sense that much of the damage done to their opponents had also been self-inflicted. With Panagiotis Tachtsidis lumbering and overrun in the centre of midfield – while the more dynamic Daniele De Rossi was, initially at least, pushed outside – little resistance was offered to Juventus's relentless incursions.

Only one team, Chievo, have conceded more goals than Roma this season. Given that Zeman's team have played one game fewer than everybody else – having been awarded a 3-0 win over Cagliari after their game was abandoned last week – that is an alarming statistic.

Not that Zeman himself was prepared to take the blame on Saturday. "Has my vision [of football] been defeated?" he mused. "How can I say that when I didn't see any trace of it out there … It is a mental question, not one of preparation."

If the manager's willingness to blame his players was surprising then similar criticisms were aimed in the opposite direction. "We are not a Scudetto-worthy team, anyone who talks about that is damaging Roma," said De Rossi – a comment seemingly directed at his manager. The pair are understood to have argued in the dressing room at full-time. "Do I regret staying at Roma? No, but I didn't stay to put on this sort of spectacle either."

Nor is it one that the team's fans will have enjoyed. Zeman's return to the club was greatly celebrated by supporters who admire his principled approach to the game, generating sell-out crowds at the Stadio Olimpico and a mood of festivity rarely seen under his predecessor Luis Enrique.

After six games, though, his team have the exact same number of points – eight – as they did at the corresponding point last season. Enrique never had the benefit of an awarded victory.

"Zeman's football has gone flat," wrote Guglielmo Bucceri wrote in La Stampa on Sunday. And that may bother the manager far more than any words Juventus can throw in his direction.