Belgium were given an early warning of what was to come when Leonardo Bonnuci saw an early goal chalked off for offside.
The Belgians tried to respond. Kevin De Bruyne - passed fit to start after an injury scare - saw a powerful drive stopped by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who then stopped Romelu Lukaku too.
From there Italy took the initiative. Pressing high and earning rewards.
Marco Verratti raced in on the edge of the box to win the ball back high, played in Nico Barella who showed superb feet to move away from Thorgan Hazard and fire across Thibaut Courtois and in.
Italy had their tails up. Lorenzo Insigne bent a sighter just wide of the post. Another warning for Belgium.
The next time the Napoli forward got going, cutting inside Youri Tielemans before being left acres in front of a very obliging Belgian back line to pick his shot and whip a wonderful curling effort into the far right corner.
Roberto Martinez and his side were handed a lifeline in injury time at the end of the first half. Jeremy Doku was pushed over by Giovanni Di Lorenzo in the box and an albeit soft penalty was awarded, Lukaku converting comfortably.
Belgium worked to respond in the second half, De Bruyne inspiring charges on the break but chances and crosses were not falling for the Red Devils, Italy taking control of what had previously been a manic Munich night.
For all their time atop the world rankings, the Belgian golden generation have fallen short when it matters most once more.