German Adrian Sutil topped the times again for the much-improved Force India team in Saturday's final free practice session for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
But his former team-mate Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's dream of racing on home soil for Ferrari turned into a nightmare as he crashed and finished 20th and last.
This was a bitter irony for Fisichella as he left the Force India team to join Ferrari after finishing second in last month's Belgian Grand Prix.
Ferrari signed him as a replacement for hapless Italian test driver Luca Badoer who strugged in two races as deputy for injured Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Fisichella went off heavily at the Curva Parabolica and his front left wheel smacked heavily into the wall.
He climbed out unhurt and walked back, sheepishly, to the paddock before visiting the medical centre for a check-up that will ensure he can take part in qualifying.
Worse still for Fisichella - his successor at Force India, Vitantonio Liuzzi, clocked the seventh-best time ahead of two times world champion Fernando Alonso's Renault.
In another tightly-contested session run under blue skies following overnight rain at the old Autodromo Nazionale, Sutil recorded a best time of one minute 23.336 seconds, outpacing nearest rival Jenson Button by six-hundredths of a second.
Button, the current drivers' championship leader, finally found some form for the Brawn GP team after struggling on Friday, with some faster running that lifted him within reach of the top spot.
Button leads the title race by 16 points ahead of his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello with five races remaining.
German Nick Heidfeld was third fastest for BMW Sauber with Barrichello fourth in the second Brawn and defending drivers champion Lewis Hamilton fifth ahead of his McLaren Mercedes team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen.
The two Red Bulls of title-chasing pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were 18th and 17th respectively while the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and newly-signed veteran Fisichella, making his debut for the team, were 12th and 20th.