TOKYO, 12 Oct - Italy were always outsiders to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, having been paired with New Zealand and South Africa.
They began as intended with two bonus-point wins in Pool B - against Namibia and Canada - but they can look back on two factors that sealed their early exit.
Andrea Lovotti's red card early in the second half against the Springboks certainly did not help their cause and neither did the cancellation of their final game against New Zealand with Typhoon Hagibis bearing down on Japan.
Italy achieved their minimum requirement of qualifying for France 2023 and they played some exciting rugby, but they desperately need to transfer that form to the Six Nations.
Conor O'Shea led them to 12 points, which was their best World Cup points tally. He cleverly juggled his team for the first two matches in the space of four days, and he brought the best out of twinkle-toed full-back Matteo Minozzi when he finally gave the Wasps-bound player the No.15 shirt.
Player of the tournament
For many years Italy struggled to find a number 10 who could live up to the standards set by Diego Dominguez, but in 26-year-old Tomasso Allan, above, they have found their man. He can break the opposition defence, control the rhythm of the game, kick their points and launch powerful clearing kicks.
He finished with 23 points and it was clear his work with Italy backs coach and former England fly-half Mike Catt had added greater depth to his game.
Honourable mentions must go to Jake Polledri, who put in three all-action performances on the flank to show that Italy's back row will be in good hands when Sergio Parisse eventually announces his international retirement.
Matteo Minozzi, who had to fight back from injury to make the World Cup squad, but when given the chance in his favoured No.15 shirt, he was a ball of energy running from the back, and dependable in defence and under the high ball.
Memorable moment off the pitch
It is not often a team can say their support is out of this world, but for Italy's match against South Africa that was the case.
For the first time, a rugby union match was broadcast to the International Space Station, where newly appointed station commander Luca Parmitano was an avid viewer of the South Africa-Italy game. He and Italy captain Sergio Parisse sent each other messages before the match.
Memorable moment on the pitch
It was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Forty-two minutes into their clash with South Africa, 17-3 down, five metres from the Springboks line with advantage going in their favour, Andrea Lovotti and fellow prop Nicola Quaglio inexplicably decide to grab one of South African Duane Vermeulen's legs apiece, pick him up and drive him towards the turf.
Wayne Barnes sent off Lovotti and would have been well within the laws to do the same to Quaglio, who got away with a stern word. Both received three-week bans.
Sergio Parisse, pictured top, will be the focus of attention as the countdown to the 2020 Six Nations and Italy's opener against Wales in Cardiff draws closer, with his international future coming into focus.
The 36-year-old holds 142 caps after his two appearances in Japan, but unlike fellow veterans, second-row Alessandro Zanni and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, he has not yet officially called time on his international career after five World Cups.
Form and fitness permitting, O'Shea is likely to want to have the number eight in his team. When he does depart, he will leave a huge hole in the side, though Braam Steyn, Jake Polledri and Sebastian Negri have already shown signs of helping to fill the void.
With O'Shea's contract set to end after the Six Nations, the search for his successor is likely to begin then. The Irishman will be without backs coach Mike Catt, who will take up a similar role with Ireland. However, Franco Smith will replace him, and the South African knows Italian rugby well and speaks the language having coached Treviso for six years.
Otherwise Italy will be relatively unchanged. Nineteen of their squad made their World Cup debuts in Japan and if O'Shea, or whoever succeeds him, continues their improvement, then the vast majority should be back for France 2023.
Quotes of the tournament
"I'm finding it really difficult. I saw the players' reaction after training and it was horrible because these guys have given their lives to Italian rugby and their World Cup has ended on the training pitch, when it should be on the playing field. For the World Cup not to finish in front of the fans on the pitch, in front of the fans watching on TV in Italy, it is a hard day for all of us and difficult to put into words."
- coach O'Shea, above, tries to sum up what it means to have their final pool match cancelled.
"A player's career goes where it goes, up and down with many different coaches. I enjoyed my experience abroad (with Ospreys and Harlequins) but I was off Italy rugby's radar. I've no regrets about what I chose to do. It took a bit of time, but I'm pleased to be here. I want to do my best and play as many matches as possible."
- scrum-half Tito Tebaldi reflects on making his Rugby World Cup debut, 10 years on from his first Italy start.
How did they do?
Italy scored 14 tries in bonus-point wins over Namibia (47-22) and Canada (48-7).
The victories set them up for a shot against South Africa but any hopes of reaching the quarter-finals went with Lovotti's red card. They lost 49-3.
Typhoon Hagibis caused the cancellation of their final pool game against New Zealand.
Italy by numbers
142 - Sergio Parisse's total Italian caps after he added two more during RWC 2019. His RWC tally stands at 16.
23 - points scored by fly-half Tommaso Allan, Italy's highest scorer: one try, six conversions, two penalties.
5 - remaining matches as Italy coach before Conor O'Shea's contract ends.
4 - props Italy lost in the defeat by South Africa. Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni to injury, and Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio to three-week suspensions for dangerous play.