Australia's water polo women have suffered an 11-9 loss to Italy at the World League Super Final in Budapest.
The relatively young Stingers were determined to open well at the capital's Duna Arena, taking a 3-2 first quarter lead courtesy of goals to NSW pair Bronte Halligan and Hannah Buckling (2).
The powerful Italians hit back after the first break with the two sides then trading blows before going to halftime 7-6 Italy's way.
A close third quarter featured two more Aussie goals to Adelaide's Isobel Bishop and some valuable saves from keeper Lilan Hedges.
Zoe Aracani kept the Stingers in touch with a lovely goal in the closing stages but it wasn't enough.
"Today was a disappointing loss against Italy; at times we didn't stay composed," said dual Olympian Rowie Webster.
"But this is game one of a six-game tournament and tomorrow we are just looking to build on today's efforts and keep going."
Australia will take on China on Wednesday night AEST in round two of the tournament's 16th staging.
The Netherlands make up Group A, with the four sides later playing cross match-ups to decide the semi-finalists.