Max Verstappen found himself in the middle of a Ferrari sandwich following practice for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
The reigning F1 champion, who is poised to become a two-time title-holder this year, had to settle for second best by the conclusion of FP2 around Monza's 'temple of speed'.
Red Bull driver Verstappen finished 0.143secs adrift of Carlos Sainz's leading time of 1:21.664s as Ferrari at least finished the day at the top of the timesheet in front of its adoring Tifosi.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc had spearheaded a Ferrari one-two at the end of FP1 but Sainz had the final say at the conclusion of the two hours of overall running.
Sainz, however, will start Sunday's race at the back of the grid due to a plethora of power unit penalties, along with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda in his AlphaTauri.
Verstappen, who serves a five-place penalty for a change of engine in his RB18, was 0.050s clear of Leclerc, with the leading trio comfortably ahead of the rest of the field led by McLaren's Lando Norris.
The Briton was almost half-a-second adrift of Leclerc such was the pace advantage of Sainz, Verstappen and the driver from Monaco.
Mercedes had suggested in FP1 that the low-downforce nature of the circuit would not be as detrimental to its performance hopes this weekend as first feared.
But in the second session, those initial concerns were realised as George Russell was 0.722s down, followed by Sergio Perez in his Red Bull, and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The seven-time F1 champion, who complained of his W13 being unstable, was 0.839s behind Sainz on a bitter-sweet day for Ferrari.
Despite leading the way in both sessions, it has Sainz's PU penalties to contend with, while another of its power units gave way in the back of Mick Schumacher's Haas.
For Schumacher, his entire day's running consisted of just nine laps.
The German driver, whose future continues to be shrouded in speculation given he is out of contract with Haas at the end of this season, sat out FP1 as Antonio Giovinazzi returned to an F1 car for the first time since his exit at the end of last season.
Returning to the cockpit of his VF-22 for the second session, Schumacher was told to stop his car 30 minutes into the hour-long outing, with Haas confirming the issue was Ferrari power unit related.
Ferrari has suffered numerous PU problems this year, leading to grid penalties for its own drivers and those of its partner teams in Alfa Romeo and Haas.
It is likely Schumacher, who propped up the timesheet, may face grid penalties alongside the six other drivers already penalised.
As in FP1, Alpine again fared well as Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were seventh and eighth quickest, with the duo separated by just 0.024s.
Astonishingly, that was exactly the same gap between the pair in the first session when Ocon again had the edge.
Williams' Alex Albon completed the top 10 but with the Thai-British driver 1.171s off the pace and followed by the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
Italian Grand Prix second practice results
1. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] 1:21.664secs
2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.143s
3. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.193s
4. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.674s
5. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.722s
6. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.730s
7. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.839s
8. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.064s
9. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.088s
10. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.171s
11. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.247s
12. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.274s
13. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.329s
14. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.471s
15. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.553s
16. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +1.893s
17. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +2.067s
18. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +2.121s
19. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.318s
20. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +2.922s