Brazil recorded an alarmingly comfortable 3-0 win over Italy in the FIFA Confederations Cup to send the Azzurri out of the competition.
The Italians' fate was sealed after USA defeated Egypt 3-0 in the other group game, to seal their place in the semi-finals at the expense of the World champions.
Luis Fabiano helped himself to two goals before Italy defender Andrea Dossena put through his own net to round off the score in the first half in Pretoria.
In what was billed as the tournament's showcase game Brazil effectively ended the clash as a contest at half-time, with all their goals coming in an eight minute spell at the end of the first period.
Italy coach Marcelo Lippi kept faith in the players who had helped him win the World Cup in 2006 with six players who had started the final in Germany starting, with in-form Giuiseppe Rossi relegated to the bench.
However, despite a positive start, it seems that if the Italians are to stand any chance of regaining their crown next summer they will have to put their faith in the next generation.
Brazil were relaxed and confident as they played the ball about at will and should have taken the lead through Lucio minutes before Fabiano eventually opened the scoring.
There was an element of luck about it as Douglas Maicon cut in from the right and fired a weak shot at goal. Fabiano controlled it in an instant before turning and firing low to Gianluigi Buffon's right into the bottom corner.
Brazil extended their lead six minutes later when Robinho broke forward and exchanged passes with Ricardo Kaka on the edge of the area but as Robinho looked odds on to slot home, Daniele De Rossi slid in.
The Italian didn't make contact with the ball but thought he had done enough before turning agonisingly to see the loose ball fall to Fabiano, who poked home his and Brazil's second of the match.
The five-time World Cup winners added a third when Kaka played in Robinho down the left, with the 25-year-old's cross being diverted in by Dossena at the near post.
Lippi introduced Simone Pepe and Alberto Gilardino for Riccardo Montolivio and Luca Toni shortly after the break to join the earlier departed Vincenzo Iaquinta in place of Rossi.
The Italians looked far more dangerous with the introduction of the trio, with Rossi in particular pulling the strings just behind the forwards.
Gilardino had a near post effort saved by Julio Cesar while the Inter shot-stopper also palmed away a thunderous Rossi long range drive, as Italy desperately tried to get the one goal they needed.
Even when Cesar was beaten the Azzurri couldn't find a way past the Brazilian defence as Pepe saw his goal bound effort blocked with Cesar struggling to get back on his line after failing to come and clear moments earlier.
In the other Group B tie, the United States went through to the semi-finals courtesy of a stunning 3-0 defeat of Egypt.
USA went into their final group game shy of confidence having lost their previous two qualifiers, but a night of upsets saw them progress with the six-goal swing with Italy they needed.
Charlie Davies' 21st minute opener gave USA hope they could do the unthinkable and so it proved in the second period as goals from Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey saw them through.
USA will now face Spain in the semi-finals on Wednesday, while Brazil play hosts South Africa on Thursday.
Italy: Buffon, Dossena, Chiellini, Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Pirlo, De Rossi, Montolivo (Pepe 45), Iaquinta (Rossi 38), Toni (Gilardino 56), Camoranesi.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Andre Santos, Juan (Luisao 24), Lucio, Maicon, Melo, Gilberto (Kleberson 84), Robinho, Ramires, Elano, Fabiano.
[FIFA Confederations Cup 2009]
Source: Sky Sports