After a largely unproductive first-half display in the friendly at Juventus Stadium, where Graziano Pelle hit a 29th minute opener for the hosts, it took a superb leveller from Spurs winger Andros Townsend for England to complete their turnaround in what was a far more promising second half.
England had travelled to Turin without injured forwards Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, forcing manager Roy Hodgson to reshuffle his side and deploy several players in unfamiliar positions.
Rooney, who was partnered up front by Harry Kane making his first start in an England shirt having come on as a substitute and scored on his debut against Lithuania last Friday, admitted there was disappointment in the England dressing room at half-time.
But he believes the second-half display has shown their potential, as well as underlining their superiority over an Italy side which like them has been heavily overhauled since they both went out at the group stage of the World Cup finals last year — Italy failing to build on their opening 2-1 win over the English.
“We were all disappointed with our performances as a team and as individuals, that’s why we are so pleased with the result in the end – we came out in the second half and showed we are a better footballing team, I feel, than Italy are,” said Rooney.
“Even though we had a lot of changes we know we are better than that. Our preparations weren’t (reflected in) what we showed in the first 45 minutes.
“I think we showed good character second half, we came out and I thought we dominated the game, created the best chances and were unlucky in the end not to win it.”
Rooney’s belief was based on how much sharper England were than their opponents once they found their stride in the second-half.
Their pressure finally paid off with Townsend creating space on the edge of the area to beat Buffon with a precise shot at the keeper’s far post.
Italy coach Antonio Conte — who replaced Cesare Prandelli after the World Cup flop — said England played like a side that was used to winning.
“There’s not a lot friendly about these games,” said Conte.
“But you can’t forget that England have won their past seven games since the World Cup, and they’ve shown their desire to remain unbeaten.”
Rooney said that it was no mean feat to get back into a game against a side that historically are past masters at guarding a lead jealously.
“It is important not to lose games,” said Rooney.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a good result against Italy away, when they have gone in front and they are really good at trying to kill the game.
“We didn’t let them do that, we tried — we knew we had to be patient at times — but I really felt we could hurt them on the break and in the channels, certainly with their three defenders and we got more joy with that.
“I don’t think they coped well physically, I think they tired in the last 10 or 15 minutes and that’s when we should punish them. I think probably it was a fair result over all,” added the 29-year-old.