Perhaps there is something of the Jekyll and Hyde about Italy as they were initially happy to match their hosts' enterprise, replying swiftly to both Scotland's early tries. But once it became clear they were not going to win, the abrasive edge intensified.
It culminated in the 75th-minute dismissal of Massimo Giovanelli, their captain and blind side flanker, apparently for stamping on Scotland's acting captain, Eric Peters.
Despite needing stitches in a head-wound, Peters played down the incident, saying: "I drove forward from a maul, went down and the next thing I knew there was blood coming from my head. I didn't actually see what happened. Rugby is a contact sport and Italy are a very physical side."
There had already been two yellow cards for Italy, one of them only five minutes before the sending-off when Peters had his face pushed pettily into the turf by Diego Dominguez.
Martin Leslie and Tom Smith also needed stitches, although Leslie's cut resulted from a clash of heads with his own full-back Glenn Metcalfe.
Italy's coach, Georges Coste, brushed off his side's indiscretions by saying: "You have to understand my team are still learning. It took France a long time before they managed not to fall for provocation."
Scotland were not in provocative mood, however. Missed tackles apart, the style of the opening 15 minutes, which produced a score of 17-12, suited them fine as they sought to entertain a crowd of 26,756.
Scotland's coach, Jim Telfer, said: "I think Ireland will give us far more questions to answer in two weeks."
Scotland: Tries Logan, C Murray, Townsend. Conversions Logan 3. Penalties Logan 3. Italy: Tries Martin 2. Conversions Dominguez.
SCOTLAND: G Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians); C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers), A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers), J Leslie (Sanix's Japan), K Logan (Wasps); G Townsend (Brieve), I Fairley (Edinburgh Reivers); T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), J Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), P Burnell (London Scottish), S Murray (Bedford), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), P Walton (Newcastle), M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers), E Peters (Bath, capt). Substitutes: B Pountney (Northampton) for M Leslie, 29 to 38; G Burns (Edinburgh Reivers) for Fairley, 44; Pountney for Peters, 74; S Longstaff (Glasgow Caledonians for Tait, 76; A Reed (Wasps) for Grimes, 78; D Hilton (Bath) for Smith, 80.
ITALY: J Pertile (Roma); F Roselli (Roma), C Stoica (Narbonne), L Martin (Padova), D Dallan (Treviso); D Dominguez (Stade Francais), A Troncon (Treviso); M Cuttitta (Calvisano), A Moscardi (Treviso), F Properzi-Curti (Treviso), V Christofoletto (Treviso), M Giacheri (West Hartlepool), Giovanelli (Narbonne, capt), A Sjorlon (Treviso), C Checchinato (Treviso). Substitutes: C Caione (Roma) for Checchinato, 46; S Stocco (Padova) for Christofoletto, 77.
Referee: R Davies (Wales).Reuse content