As the ball came towards him, Mirko Vucinic supposedly heard a shout from the touchline. It was Antonio Conte. "Leave it!" the Juventus coach claims to have roared. Obedient to a fault, Vucinic stepped over Paolo De Ceglie's pass and let it run for his teammate Sebastian Giovinco. Only it never reached him.
Parma's former Liverpool defender, the impressive Gabriel Paletta had anticipated exactly where the ball was headed and was on it like a flash, striding forward into Juventus' half before releasing promising young substitute Nicola Sansone. After scoring the winner against Inter in late November, the German-born Italian, formerly of Bayern Munich, got another important goal for his side, this time a 77th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Juventus.
Conte had thought "the game was dead," pronouncing it so in the 51st minute after Andrea Pirlo saw his free-kick go in off Jonathan Biabiany. Yet by instructing Vucinic to leave De Ceglie's pass for Giovinco, he'd inadvertently brought it back to life.
Of course, after so many correct in-game management decisions throughout his time as a coach at Juventus, Conte can be forgiven for getting one wrong every now and again. And that's assuming that this was even his decision in the first place. Because there's a suspicion that it was instead an act of martyrdom on his part to protect the often under fire Vucinic from criticism.
By holding his hands up and taking responsibility for it, as he did after the match, Conte was in effect saying to his striker and the rest of his players, "it's my fault, not yours, keep doing what you're doing."
To a limited extent, because it's unavoidable really, he was also drawing some of the attention away from his team's slow start to 2013, which needs to be placed in perspective.
Losing 2-1 at home to a struggling Sampdoria side that had fallen behind 1-0 and were down to 10 men for an hour was a shock a week ago and understandably so. Drawing 1-1 away to Parma also took some by surprise. But it really shouldn't have.
After all, Parma are the only team in Serie A yet to suffer a defeat at home this season. They're unbeaten in front of their fans at the Ennio Tardini since March last year. So taken in isolation, a point at a ground where Inter and Roma have both lost and Milan and Fiorentina have also been held this season shouldn't be scoffed at. It's a good one, especially in light of how Juventus were taken to extra-time by Milan in midweek before booking their place in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.
The issue here is that, unlike in mid-November when, either side of their 3-0 triumph over Chelsea in Turin, the champions and league leaders also went two games without a win in Serie A - drawing 0-0 at home to Lazio and then losing 1-0 away to Milan - they were actually in winning positions against Sampdoria and Parma only to throw those games away when apparently in control, something that's unheard of under Conte.
On the one hand, both results can be attributable to individual errors: a Gigi Buffon mistake allowed Mauro Icardi to score Samp's first goal and start their comeback a week ago just as one by Vucinic led to Parma's equaliser on Sunday. On the other, it's the familiar and oft-stated case of Juventus either not taking their chances or maybe simply not creating the right ones. Admittedly, it's a concern for Conte.
Juventus average more possession than anyone else in Serie A with a 59% share of the ball. They play higher up the pitch [34% of their touches are in the opposition third of the pitch], make the second most forward passes [164 per game] and have more shots [19.7 per game] than their other competitors in the division. In short, they dominate their opponents. Except their superiority isn't always telling. And that's partly because on average it takes Juventus 9.61 shots to score a goal. That's too many.
To put that figure into context, there are 8 teams in Serie A who have managed to score with fewer shots this season. Giovinco and Fabio Quagliarella are Juventus' top scorers, but they each only have six goals and, along with Vucinic, Alessandro Matri and Nicklas Bendtner, often follow this pattern: score as a replacement, start the next game, don't score, get substituted and watch from the bench as their replacement then does score. Not one of them, even if they have done elsewhere in the past, seem able to grasp the nettle and become the team's recognised and reliable goalscorer.
Now, one response to this is to advocate [once again] for the club to move for a striker that they can depend on in the January transfer window, one capable of scoring 15 goals between now and the end of the season and contend to be Capocannoniere the next. Why not pull out the stops [assuming there are the financial resources] to get Didier Drogba, Fernando Llorente or, the latest name to be bandied around, Lisandro Lopez? For as the above evidence shows, there is certainly some justification for doing so during a campaign in which Juventus remain in contention for all major honours across three competitions.
Or is there? Because while the Old Lady huffs and puffs and can't always blow the house down, if you disregard the goals from the 3-0 win Roma were awarded in September when their hosts Cagliari were forced to forfeit the match after president Massimo Cellino recklessly invited supporters to a ground that had yet to be granted a safety certificate, she has the best attack in Serie A. So it's not that goals don't come easy to Juventus, rather that they could perhaps come a bit easier with a better finisher and better finishing in general.
Conte is mindful of this - "we know the stats very well" - as he also presumably knows of how Juventus haven't scored in open-play in each of their last two matches in Serie A, which in itself is an indication that, brief flashes aside, his team haven't played well enough of late. One could even go so far as to argue that there's been a slump in performances and to a lesser extent results for two months.
Juventus, for instance, took 28 points from their first 10 games of the season in Serie A. They then picked up 'only' 17 from their next 10; a drop-off, true, which, in fairness, came after a record start and was to be expected, especially as Juventus entered a delicate period of the season when qualification for the knock-out stages of the Champions League was to be decided.
Sure, their lead at the top has been cut from eight points to three in the last two games, but they're still a point better off than at this stage last season when Milan, who could still count on the likes of Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Mark van Bommel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, perhaps represented more formidable challengers than Lazio do today.
To say that means no disrespect to Lazio who are in the middle of a run of nine league games without a defeat. It's just that those Milan players had been there and done it before. Juventus showed great character to come back and win the Scudetto after falling behind them between February and April last year. Relinquishing their lead for a period didn't faze them then and it would be unlikely to this month if they were to be overtaken by Lazio.
But in contrast to a year ago, Conte is fighting on three fronts and maybe it's the effect of that to say nothing of returning to training after Christmas earlier than anyone else in Serie A that perhaps explains the team's winter weariness.
Four players were out injured at the weekend, not a crisis by any means [at least not on the scale Juventus experienced in the two years prior to Conte's appointment] but the absences of Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio, and the departure of Kwadwo Asamoah for the African Cup of Nations are notable. It was perhaps no coincidence on Sunday that the inside-left channel between defence and midfield where they usually play was where Parma's best chances and their goal originated.
How Conte manages this month [Sunday's trip to Parma was the first of eight games in 30 days] will reveal much, though not everything, about the destination in which the Scudetto is headed. "We're not martians," Conte reminded those who are yet to adjust to Juventus losing or drawing after last year's undefeated season in Serie A. They're only human after all.
The prevailing sense remains, however, that, in spite of recent results, overall there is still no better team in Italy than Juventus. What's clear is they're just not at their best at the moment.