Inter failed to make the most of draws by Napoli and Milan by losing 2-1 at home to Sampdoria.
The Nerazzurri went into the half 1-0 up courtesy of a clever Danilo D'Ambrosio run into the box on an Ever Banega cross, though it rapidly emerged that Antonio Candreva had begun the attack from an offside position.
Karma quickly intervened, Matias Silvestre heading onto an offside Patrik Shick for the leveller.
The Nerazzurri generally had the lion's share of the possession, but were as ineffective as their opponents were incisive, the Doria hitting the woodwork twice in the first half.
A reckless Marcelo Brozovic handball handed the Blucerchiati a penalty five minutes from time, and Fabio Quagliarella duly slotted in to allow Samp to do the double over the Nerazzurri for the first time since they won the title in 1991.
As bizarre as it sounds, Sampdoria's goals were owed to a set piece and two defensive errors, while their other chances were the result of great individual skill from Fabio Quagliarella and Bruno Fernandes. They did very little else. Inter mostly got it right, but were let down by their errors. Speaking of which ...
Inter made plenty of mistakes -- from the clearance that gave away the free kick that resulted in the penalty to the chances they fluffed at the other end, both Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi missing blatant sitters.
The crossing was abysmal too, a contradiction for a side that focuses on wing play. Is the midfield a cohesive unit? It feels like there are two tacklers/passers, two wingers who are mostly helped by average attacking full-backs and a No. 10 who is mostly lost in the rush.
Banega wasn't involved enough, either. Joao Mario's presence could be a problem: competition isn't enough to get these two to succeed. One of them will have to learn the ropes, the instinctive touch it takes to play in the hole, and will need a painful trial-and-error period to do so, not getting benched after two bad games.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- It's hard to blame Stefano Pioli for trusting the players on the pitch to do the job. This worked against Chievo, and his subs did well anyway. Are Inter too predictable? The repeated crossing squandered what was a dominant performance. Brozovic worked well too, so starting him wasn't a mistake, at least until he conceded the penalty.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Neither goal was his fault, and he made a nice save with his legs.
DF Danilo D'Ambrosio, 6 -- Brilliant run for Inter's opener, was very active on the wing and defended with intensity, even clearing once after he gave it away on the edge of the penalty area. Crossing really wasn't there though, and he was out-jumped by Matias Silvestre for the equaliser.
DF Gary Medel, 6 -- Struggled in the air against Patrik Schick. Can Inter afford to have two short players (the other being D'Ambrosio) in their defensive lineup?
DF Miranda, 6 -- Generally attentive, the Brazilian lost Schick on a free kick, which thankfully didn't lead to anything. His excellent distribution was marred by the poor clearance that led to the free kick which resulted in the decisive penalty.
DF Cristian Ansaldi, 6 -- Potentially would have gotten an eight if it wasn't for his horrific crossing. Good running on the ball and not a single mistake at the back, which has been an issue in the past. Worked well with Ivan Perisic and cut inside often.
MF Roberto Gagliardini, 6 -- Taken off at the half because of injury, but still made three interceptions. Once found Mauro Icardi with a brilliant chip with the outside of the foot, but the chance went begging.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 5 -- Oh, Marcelo. Actually a strong performance before he foolishly conceded the decisive penalty. Had 89 passes, and was one of the few Nerazzurri able to find Icardi or the wingers with some passes worth running onto. Nobody can switch possession quite like him, either.
MF Antonio Candreva, 5 -- Shot prematurely from outside the box, his repeated Row Z crossing negating an otherwise energetic performance. Is he too one-dimensional for Inter to make the step forward? Wasted a glorious chance and sent another promising one wide. Infuriating.
MF Ever Banega , 5 -- The assist doesn't save him. Now that Inter are back to facing entrenched opponents, the Argentine feels detached from the rest of the team. These aren't conditions in which he can thrive.
MF Ivan Perisic, 7 -- Dynamite running down the wings, his sub-optimal crossing was more than compensated for by his repeated attempts to get something going, as well as his defensive work. Towered over a defender to warm Emiliano Viviano's gloves with a difficult header.
FW Mauro Icardi, 5 -- That missed chance would have ended the game. Like Banega, was otherwise left to his own devices up front, though he helped regain possession several times.
MF Geoffrey Kondogbia, 7 -- Three tackles, four interceptions and a strong performance soured only by the occasional errant pass. Is perfect for supporting an attack and immediately rebooting it by stealing possession.
FW Eder, 7 -- Another man who came on and had an impact, almost immediately giving Viviano something to worry about with a shot from outside the box.
MF Joao Mario, N/R -- Came on too late to really do anything.