Gianluigi Buffon says that Italy are a level below World Cup favourites Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina.
Cesare Prandelli's men reached the final of Euro 2012 and cruised through their qualification group undefeated.
However, Buffon is not optimistic about Italy's chances of triumphing in Brazil this summer, not least because they could run into Spain - the side that routed them 4-0 in Kiev two years ago - in the quarter-finals.
"Our national team is reliable," the Juventus goalkeeper told reporters. "We win the games that we should win and sometimes we even manage to spring a surprise or two.
"We are a mature team. We have certainties but also some limitations.
"One must also recognise the strength of the opponents. We are one step below Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina.
"We want to do our best and not have any kind of regret.
"I'm not absolutely certain that can we reach the final but the quarter-finals onwards would be a good World Cup for us.
"[I say this] also because we could meet Spain in the quarters and there would be no shame in going out against them."
Four-time world champions Italy have been drawn in the same group as Uruguay, England and Costa Rica.