Thanks to the relentlessness of modern life cycles, launches like this week's Ferrari Roma are years in the planning. Denied the day-to-day flexibility to react to their rivals like a supermarket chain pricing petrol, car manufacturers place their bets well in advance and then cross their corporate fingers. Back when the Roma entered its initial design and development stages, Ferrari would likely have guessed at where it would rivals would be upon completion. But few would have foreseen the scale of the challenge currently facing Aston Martin.
By virtue of miraculous strategic vision or fortuitous good luck (for the Italians, at least) Ferrari now finds itself launching a model which strikes right at the heart of Aston's core market, just at the British brand endures one of its most tumultuous periods in recent times.
The company's share price has fallen by nearly 75 per cent since it floated on the stock market last year; it has seen a £20.8 million profit in the first half of 2018 turn into a £78.8 million pre-tax loss in the same period this year. More than £3 billion has been wiped off its overall value and, with Brexit uncertainty continuing to dent its forecasts, the company has found itself taking out a £120 million loan just to help see its now-make-or-break DBX SUV across the line.
The Roma is by no means alone in encroaching on Aston's territory. But while McLaren's recent foray into GT cars won't necessarily have set alarm bells ringing in Gaydon, Ferrari's certainly will. Aston, of course, is planning its own land-grab with a forthcoming series of mid-engined super and hypercars. - although at the current rate of progress, the introduction of the Valkyrie, Vanquish and Valhalla seems very far away indeed.
Things will appear even more perilous if Ferrari manages to coax significant portion of DB11 (and perhaps even Vanquish) customers into the Roma. Certainly that is the plan, with Maranello freely admitting that the new model was designed with new customers in mind.
Its styling is either classically beautiful or generically inoffensive depending on how you look at it; either way the heavy overtones of Aston and Jaguar are hard to miss. Combine that with a front-mid-mounted V8 that has won International Engine of the Year a record four times running and the best power to weight ratio in its class - not to mention the generous three-year unlimited mileage warranty and seven-year servicing package that Ferrari throws in with the purchase of every new car - and it looks a formidable prospect.
Moreover, as Ferrari bides its time over the launch of its 'FUV' crossover, and Aston scrambles to bring the DBX to market, it's hard to see how this week's developments in Rome could have been better timed to torment the decision makers in Gaydon. Aston's Second Century plan, once a vision of excitement and positivity, is only five years old - but it will require increasingly careful navigation to see the brand prosper in all its intended markets.