Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for Sunday's Italian MotoGP at Mugello but it was Valentino Rossi's failure to make the front row that caught the eye.
Rossi has seven straight wins in Italy but will start fourth, behind Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi.
Sunday's race will be the first at Mugello in the MotoGP era where Rossi has not been on the front row.
But with just 0.161 seconds separating the first four riders, he is certainly well in contention.
Dani Pedrosa did well to finish eighth after stretching a muscle in his right hip in practice and also suffering a possible crack in his thigh bone where the muscle attaches.
It was more bad luck for the injury-plagued Spaniard, but he hopes to be able to race on Sunday.
Britain's James Toseland had to make do with finishing 14th fastest.
Lorenzo, who has won two out of four races so far this season, said he was happy with his day's work but still had Yamaha team-mate Rossi down as favourite to win the race.
"It's a great pole position and I'm really excited to be starting from the front at Mugello," he said.
"My race pace is good and I think that I have the possibility to fight with Valentino; in my mind he is still the favourite here.
"My target is to get a good start and then try to stay with Valentino and Casey, and then I am sure I can be a part of the race."
Rossi, who suffered the indignity of coming last in a race for the first time his career at the most recent race in France, said he was frustrated to miss out on the front row in his home race.
"Sincerely I am quite disappointed to miss out on the first row," he said.
"Usually I don't mind so much but here, in Mugello, it's special so I am sorry for this."