New Scotland manager Walter Smith was delighted with his side and refused to rule out qualification for the World Cup despite defeat by Italy.
"The boys were terrific here," he told BBC Sport. "The first half, we were under pressure, but in the second half I thought we were the better side.
"The first step towards credibility was taken out there against Italy.
"We were a bit unlucky not to take at least a draw and will win more than we lose if we keep playing like that."
Smith took over from Berti Vogts after Scotland were left with just two points from their opening three games in their qualification group.
And the new manager avoided being drawn on whether defeat in Milan ended their chances of at least a play-off place behind leaders Italy.
"For us, it is not a time to look too far ahead," he said.
"We will see how we perform against Moldova and Belarus and look at it after that.
"You know you are going to be under pressure coming here against Italy, but we handled it fairly well.
"Two excellent free-kicks from Pirlo leave us disappointed, the first of which was a poor decision by the referee.
"We had some excellent possession in the second half and had a couple of excellent chances.
"Our fans have been absolutely fantastic, but the team gave them something to cheer in a way that has been missing."
Defender David Weir, who came out of international retirement to aid his former Everton manager, thought that Scotland could still qualify for the World Cup finals.
"If we play like that from now on, we will not be far away," he said.
"We gave a good account of ourselves and I'm sure we can build from here."
Italy coach Marcello Lippi thought his side should have won by more than two goals.
"Scotland have played with order and it has been difficult for us to try and penetrate their area, but the best thing has been the first half-hour, when we dominated and had a lot of chances," he said.
"The only regret is that we didn't capitalise on our chances.
"I am satisfied because I have seen that the players have fought for every ball and worked hard and we have had moments of good quality football."