Their reign on the top was short like leprechauns

As Vucinic ran towards Curva Sud after his goal, in a vain attempt to make love to the entire world at once, the TV cameras caught a banner (stendardo, to get all technical) with the message "No Totti No Party". If Totti's absence demotes the status of a get-together from party to non-party, it's only logical to presume that the absence of Totti, Juan, Pek, Taddei and later Ménez would be enough to turn any party into a funeral. Considering that, it's impossible to demand more than what we were presented with this afternoon. Not a better result, obviously, and probably not better play either. Roma ran this game, and suffocated Lazio's play through midfield: Hernanes was sucked into the black hole that Simone Perrotta creates by running in circles really really fast, and only came out of it when Reja threw him a life-line with his substitution. Hat's off to Ranieri, who channeled Midas today.

When Ménez couldn't go on (a pre-existing injury was aggravated during warm-up and his participation in the game was touch-and-go up until five minutes before kick-off), Roma lost all links between midfield and attack. Normally Totti does that, and if not he then Pek, and if not he then Ménez. Now neither were on the pitch, and Roma greatly missed a connecting player which joined the two parts of the team together. Good thing that he came on just as Ménez stepped off. Leandro Greco entered the game, and scored with his first ever touch in a derby. The goal was called back after some sketchy decision making by the assistant referee, but rather than be disheartened at being robbed of a dream, he moved on to plan B and instead took over the game. As back-up plans go, it was admirably simple in design and execution. He ran Roma's midfield, slowing down the ball when necessary, and hitting incisive assists forward before throwing himself in the same direction to follow up. At twenty four, it would be dishonest to say that he plays beyond his years (DDR did after all kiss the World Cup at the same age), but it is no invention to claim that he plays beyond his experience, his entire game experience in the last two years spanning only twenty seven serie B games. Yet here he was–playing against both that and the adage that Romans make for bad derby players because they live the game too intensely–and doing it better than almost anyone else on the pitch. The only one that perhaps did even better was Mirko Vucinic, but we should remember that (1) Mirko Vucinic, when he is in the mood, is a mad genius of this sport, and (2) that pitch also featured the team which led the league by five points earlier today. I do hope that Greco gets a continued run in the team, both because good players are always nice to have around, and because his story arch is spectacular, which I of course embrace.

Were we to take our eyes off Greco and Vucinic for a brief moment, we would see Simplicio, who was everywhere. At the same time. We would see Mexès and Burdisso collectively making Juan's absence a tolerable inconvenience, a hilariously bady hit penalty by Borriello and an attempt to save it by Muslera that likely made my funny bone snap in two. We would have seen a half empty Tevere stand, which made the romantic in me die a little on the inside. (Roma dominating the sonic landscape of the stadium kinda, sorta, made up for it, as best as it could.) Finally, we would see a fantastic opportunity that the derby could yet again galvanize this team into something more exciting and solid than we've seen so far. Because serie A is a wasteland of wounded contenders, the vacuum is there to challenge. And you know what's really messed up? Despite everything said so far this season, and all the gut wrenching play we've had to stomach, Roma has four points more than one year ago.