While Saiger got as far out of the way as possible, costing him a place in the process, Zannini didn't appear to be aware of the second Fila Ducati until Hodgson was rubbing handlebars with him and in an instant, Hodgson's chances of victory had evaporated.
It all became academic one turn later when Hodgson ran wide on the exit to the second Rivazza and Xaus crossed the line with a wholly unrepresentative 2.793secs margin of victory.
Hodgson was philosophical over his second place run, knowing that a rematch was just a few hours away while Xaus' fifth win in the last nine races all but assured him of second place in the final standings.
Behind the factory duo, Laconi had a thoroughly lonely run to third place, less than ten seconds behind Xaus and more than 20 seconds clear of the next rider, Suzuki's Gregorio Lavilla.
With the lap one retirement of James Toseland and the lap eleven departure of his HM Plant Ducati teammate Chris Walker courtesy of an 'off' at the Variante Alta, Lavilla was able to outlast the challenges of Steve Martin and the impressive duo of Troy Corser and Lucio Pedercini although had the race lasted one lap longer, an inspired Frankie Chili would surely have claimed the spot.
Chili, in perhaps his final WSBK appearance on home soil had a disastrous start to the day when he stalled his Team PSG-1 Ducati on the startline, forcing the veteran Italian to start from the pitlane, some ten seconds after the rest of the field.
In 27th position at the end of lap one, Chili was 17th by lap four, in the points on lap five, eleventh by lap eight before dispatching Ivan Clementi, Marco Borciani, Corser, an ailing Pedercini and then, on the final lap, Steve Martin for fifth place. A stunning ride which was fully appreciated by everyone in attendance.
Behind Martin, Troy Corser rode well for seventh place after Pedercini's late race retirement while Mauro Sanchini passed his Bertocchi Kawasaki teammate Clementi on the last lap to take eighth place.
Clementi, Marco Borciani, Juan Borja, David Garcia, wildcard Alex Gramigni, Sergio Fuertes and Luca Pini completed both the points scorers and the unlapped runners.
Although the retirement list was small it contained three of the four British riders in the field for in addition to Walker's crash, a broken gear linkage accounted for Toseland on lap one and a bike problem sidelined James Haydon after five laps. However all three will be out for another crack at the whip in race two.