Italy almost sprung a shock in their first game under Conor O'Shea, going down 30-24 to Argentina in a one-off Test in Santa Fe.
Having succeeded Jacques Brunel at the Italy helm following a disappointing Six Nations campaign, O'Shea saw a much-changed side - missing rested skipper Sergio Parisse among others - compete strongly against the Rugby World Cup semi-finalists.
Italy edged ahead early in the second half, having trailed by a solitary point at the break, but the hosts ultimately proved too strong as fly-half Nicolas Sanchez kicked 20 points and set up his side's second try.
Sanchez twice split the posts, either side of a Carlo Canna three-pointer for Italy, during an uninspiring first quarter.
Argentina then claimed the game's first try through Manuel Montero, but a yellow card for Guido Petti gave Canna the chance to add a second penalty and Leonardo Sarto then crossed to put Italy firmly back in the contest.
Sanchez and Canna continued to trade kicks prior to Argentina claiming a crucial second try through Matias Moroni, laid on by Sanchez.
Italy refused to give in and closed to within six points when Simone Favaro was driven over, but Argentina held on.