The Maracana crowd is notoriously difficult to please, with fans believing that no foreigner could possibly match the long line of Brazilian greats who have graced the hallowed turf, yet Pirlo, a World Cup winner, was granted an exception.
His name was chanted before and during the game against Mexico, which turned out to be his 100th international appearance, and he brought the house down when he scored with a majestic 30-metre free kick. His elegant, unhurried and thoughtful style can put a smile on the face of the purists and his favoured role as a deep-lying playmaker makes him something of a rarity in modern football.
Described by former coach Marcello Lippi as a "silent leader", Italy sorely missed his influence at the 2010 finals, when a calf injury forced him out of the opening group two group games.
He returned for Euro 2012, however, and led Italy to the final, scoring a trademark free kick against Croatia and producing a nonchalant "Panenka"-style chipped penalty in the quarter-final shootout against England that might have demoralised his opponents.
There seems to be plenty more miles in the engine yet.