Veteran Socceroo Brett Emerton thrived in his new central midfield position as Sydney FC opened their six-match pre-season Italy tour promisingly despite a 3-2 loss to Serie B side Padova.
Coach Frank Farina fielded his strongest line-up and Alessandro Del Piero drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 15,688 as he left the field after playing against the club where he started his stellar career at age 16 in 1991.
Vedran Janjetovic patrolled Sydney FC's back four of Pedj Bojic, Sebastian Ryall, Matt Jurman and Marc Warren while returning star Nick Carle, Emerton and Rhyan Grant made up the midfield with Corey Gameiro, Del Piero and trialist Vedran Niksic up front.
Granted his wish to play in the middle after patrolling the flank last season, Emerton played well and scored his team's first goal with a left foot volley in the 12th minute after Padova striker Daniole Vantaggito put the hosts ahead in just the fourth minute.
Sydney FC fell behind again soon after when they failed to clear a corner and Vantaggito pounced to bag his second goal with a toe poke.
Gameiro, Grant and Niksic all had good chances early in the second half before Padova went further ahead when Enaj Jelenic finished off a slick move in the 81st minute.
Farina gave Del Piero an early exit and the ovation tribute the occasion deserved in the 83rd minute.
Five minutes later a Padova defender handled a goal-bound Peter Triantis a free kick in the 88th minute and Carle stepped up to slot home the penalty kick.
Sydney FC takes on a team from Serie A club Udinese, made up of reserve team and youth team players on Thursday night (Friday 2am AEST) in Jesolo where Farina will rotate his squad to give the remainder of his players some game time.