AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri lamented his side's diminishing Serie A lead after a 1-0 defeat to Palermo yesterday handed Inter Milan the opportunity to close the gap to two points.
If the champions beat Lecce today, they will find themselves just two points behind having been 13 points adrift - with a game in hand - in mid-December.
What makes that gap even more crucial is that the next match, in two weeks' time following the international break, is the Milan derby, meaning Inter could be leading the table if they also win that game.
Compounding Milan's prospects is the absence of star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was missing in Sicily as he began a three-match suspension. Young striker Alexandre Pato also limped off against Palermo and Allegri said he would need two weeks to recover.
"It's useless talking about Ibrahimovic, we know how important he is to us," moaned Allegri. "We know we've thrown away a good lead. Now there's the international break and we'll try to reorganise our ideas and to rediscover our serenity."
That is something Milan have been sadly lacking in their last two games, drawing 1-1 at home to rock-bottom Bari and then losing to a side who were in crisis themselves having lost five in a row beforehand.
But Allegri insists his side are still the team to beat. "We're still favourites to win the league. Obviously no-one could have imagined that we'd only take one point from matches against Bari and Palermo.
"Unfortunately that's how it went but this is football. We need to be more aggressive in the first halves, the same thing happened against Bari. We didn't begin with the right concentration but in any case there's still a long way to go in the league, there's still eight more games. Of course the derby will be vital."