Yamaha dominated the first free practice session of the weekend at Vallelunga as Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser put considerable distance between themselves and the competition.
With Haga eager to put a disastrous round at Donington Park firmly behind him, he made his intentions very clear with a lap of 1min 49.575secs, two tenths better than team-mate Corser, but, crucially, seven tenths better than third place Troy Bayliss.
While the circuit was still wet from an earlier downpour, Haga hit the front with just over five minutes remaining, although Corser had occupied the top spot for almost half an hour himself.
Bayliss got what could be a championship sealing weekend off to a solid start in third, ahead of the surprise for the session, Kenan Sofuoglu. Likely to be a big morale boost for the Turk, the reigning Supersport Champion emerged as the best of the Honda contingent in fourth.
Jakub Smrz, who is joined by brother Matej on the grid this weekend, was a strong fifth best, ahead of Roberto Rolfo, the Italian showing well on home ground.
Following a run of dismal of form recently, PSG-1 Kawasaki will be pleased to see Regis Laconi up in a strong seventh, placing him ahead of Michel Fabrizio, as well as Fonsi Nieto and Max Biaggi.
Elsewhere, Chris Walker was an encouraging 11th quickest, just ahead of Ayrton Badovini, who ran as high as fourth at one point, while Brands Hatch and Donington Park winner Ryuichi Kiyonari was down in 13th after suffering a tumble.
Of the other expected frontrunners this weekend, Carlos Checa was 16th, while Max Neukirchner was 18th after experiencing a fall early in the session.