It turned out to be pretty comfortable in the end, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic scored the goals that ensured a 12th win from 13 games, but getting back into your stride after the international break is no straight forward task – as Massimiliano Allegri is only too aware.
“It wasn't easy today,” the coach began his post-match analysis. “In our first game back after the last ten breaks we'd only picked up 20 points – fewer than some of our rivals.
“SPAL are good at playing out from the back, they move the ball around well and they made it hard for us initially.
“In the second half, our shape was better with Douglas [Costa] in behind Mandzukic and Ronaldo and we looked better both with and without the ball.”
COSTA, BENTANCUR AND CRISTIANO
The coach went on to discuss the individual performances of Douglas Costa, Rodrigo Bentancur and Ronaldo.
“Douglas started the season well then went through a bit of a tricky spell but he's fine now. He played really well today and showed great character.
“Bentancur has improved a lot both on the ball and when not in possession. There are areas he still needs to work on, for example finding space to play in players like Cristiano. He played a bit further back today because we wanted to make sure we weren't caught on the counter. He's been playing well recently and he's definitely on the up.
“Cristiano does things that catch opponents off guard and that's exactly what we need. Sometimes we play one pass too many and the moment is lost.”
Finally, Allegri commented on his team selection.
“I do look at the way our opponents play but it's also true that we tend to boss games so I often make decisions for psychological reasons. A bit of time on the bench can do a player good and keep them motivated – and motivation can make all the difference.”