Fernando Torres fluffed two late chances as Spain's hopes of making a winning start to Euro 2012 foundered after a 1-1 draw against Italy in Gdansk on Sunday night.
Torres, who has endured a wretched period at Chelsea since joining from Liverpool in January 2011, was sent on by Vicente Del Bosque shortly after Cesc Fabregas cancelled out Antonio Di Natale's opener.
But he could not conjure up a winner as the opening match in Group C ended all square.
Del Bosque opted to utilise the 'false number nine' formation which saw them line-up without a recognised striker and although there were moments of promise from offensive midfielders Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, Spain lacked a focal point until Torres' introduction after 74 minutes.
With few clear-cut chances in the opening period, the second half saw an open, flowing game of football which could have produced numerous goals.
Mario Balotelli had a gilt-edged chance after a momentary lapse in concentration from Sergio Ramos. Balotelli took an age to get a shot in though, allowing Ramos to get back and smuggle the ball behind for a corner.
It proved Balotelli's final act as he was hauled off by Italy boss Cesare Prandelli in favour of Di Natale.
And the Udinese veteran made an immediate impact as he opened the scoring within four minutes, latching on to Pirlo's inch-perfect pass before coolly slotting past the onrushing Casillas.
A shock seemed on the cards but world and European champions Spain hit back almost immediately.
A beautiful flicked pass with the outside of his left boot from Silva picked out Fabregas and he made no mistake with a crisp finish under Buffon.
After 75 minutes, Torres tried to round Buffon but the Juventus goalkeeper made a clean tackle and, then 10 minutes later, a clever one-two with Xavi saw Torres burst through but his attempted chip drifted narrowly over.
In between, Sebastian Giovinco picked out Di Natale five yards from goal but his volley at full stretch went wide.