Torino's hopes of gaining automatic promotion suffered another set back on Saturday afternoon as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat against struggling Empoli.
Valerio Di Cesare and Manuel Iori came back into the starting eleven, and in a surprise move, Riccardo Meggiorini was preferred to Rolando Bianchi upfront.
The home side had the first half chance of the match when Massimo Maccarone's scuffed shot nearly found the bottom corner but was cleared away from goal by Alessandro Parisi.
Toro should have taken the lead soon afterwards as Mirco Antenucci went on a fantastic run down the left wing, but his finish let him down and his shot went wide of the post. And the away side were made to pay for that miss as Empoli took the lead on 24 minutes when former Middlesbrough striker Maccarone found the bottom corner with a fierce low strike from distance.
Stefano Guberti should have scored an instant equaliser for Torino, but his curling shot from just outside of the area once again went wide. Riccardo Meggiorini also came close to scoring just his second goal in a Toro shirt, but his header was well tipped over the bar by Empoli keeper Renato Dossena.
Empoli nearly went in at the break two goals ahead when Torino failed to deal with a free kick, but Francesco Benussi produced a fine save to deny Antonio Buscè.
After bringing on Alen Stevanovic at Half Time, Giampiero Ventura also brought on Cristian Pasquato and Rolando Bianchi in order to find a breakthrough, but Toro were only creating half chances, with Antenucci probably coming the closest with a long range shot.
Toro nearly got their equaliser in bizarre circumstances when Cristian Pasquato's tame shot from 25 yards was dropped by Dossena, but luckily for him, the ball went out for a corner and not into the net. The home keeper made amends for that mistake when he made good saves from both Rolando Bianchi and Pasquato in the closing stages, and that was enough for the Tuscan side to gain a vital victory.
Whilst Torino's form continues to be a worry (4 points from a possible 12), they still find themselves top of the table, as once again rivals Pescara and Sassuolo failed to capitalise. With two home games on the horizon, including one against Sassuolo, Toro will know that a return to their early season form is a must if they are to avoid the agonising pain of the playoffs.