Italy coach Jacques Brunel gave credit to Wales following their 26-9 win at a rain-lashed Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
For the hosts, it was a harsh return to reality after the euphoria of a deserved 23-18 win over France at the Olympic Stadium in near perfect conditions three weeks ago.
Italy next succumbed to a 34-10 defeat against a clinical Scotland at Murrayfield, and on Saturday gained little reward for a performance which left Brunel mystified.
Italy were without captain and influential number eight Sergio Parisse, who last week was handed a 30-day ban for insulting a referee while playing for French club side Stade Francais.
He was replaced by Fijian-born Manoa Vosawai, and while he proved efficient Parisse's absence appeared to tell as the hosts struggled against an astute Welsh defence.
Brunel made a series of replacements, but Italy were later penalised when Martin Castrogiovanni, standing in as captain for Parisse, was sin-binned for persistent infringements at the scrum.
"I don't think the attitude of the players was the problem," said Brunel.
"We didn't manage the game well, especially in the first half. We didn't put them under pressure, our kicking was irregular and Wales were more precise.
"Their kicking was better and Wales were generally more efficient.
"Our game just wasn't there, it seemed. You could say we struggled more than the Welsh did in these conditions."
Italy face England at Twickenham on March 10 before capping their tournament by hosting Ireland six days later.
After their performance - and England's dismantling of France which kept their Grand Slam hopes alive - it seemed an understatement when a sheepish Castrogiovanni said: "Our next game won't be easy."