Milan Skriniar was sent off in a defeat to Empoli, but Inter could have few complaints with either that decision or the result.
Inter were brought crashing back down to earth after their Supercoppa Italiana win as they were deservedly defeated 1-0 by Empoli at San Siro on Monday.
Simone Inzaghi’s side looked set for a big second half of the season after dismantling champions and rivals Milan in Saudi Arabia last week.
But the Nerazzurri’s return to Serie A action saw them outclassed by a goal from teenager Tommaso Baldanzi following a first-half red card for Milan Skriniar.
Defeats like these may not now cost Inter in the race for Champions League qualification due to Juventus’ points deduction, but any remote title hopes seem to have been quickly dashed.
Skriniar’s dismissal was the epitome of Inter’s erratic first half which could have come to an early halt as Andre Onana made an unconvincing save from Nicol Cambiaghi before Henrikh Mkhitaryan escaped punishment from the ensuing corner when his high boot hit Francesco Caputo’s head.
Caputo continued to dazzle as Inter only threatened through Federico Dimarco, who had a volley well saved and also set up Lautaro Martinez to poke him in badly.
Skriniar, already booked, then became the second Inter player to kick Caputo in the head, and this time the foul was spotted by referee Antonio Rapuano, leading to his dismissal.
Inter showed very little improvement after half-time and fell behind when Onana, whose shaky display included another unorthodox stop, was beaten by a Baldanzi shot that was straight at him.
Stefan de Vrij headed against the post from six yards, but Inter proved unimaginative in attack as they were miserable at the back in a frustrating finale.