Walter Mazzarri only sprung one surprise with his first Inter Serie A lineup, Zdravko Kuzmanovic making up a three-man central midfield in place of expected starter Mauro Icardi, leaving Rodrigo Palacio to lead the line alone, supported by Ricky Álvarez just behind him. Fabio Liverani's Genoa were largely as expected with Alberto Gilardino leading the line and Juraj Kucka joining Francesco Lodi in the centre of midfield, owing to Davide Biondini's suspension.
Both sides began slowly with Inter taking control of most of the possession without really threatening early on. It took until the 11th minute for a chance to materialise, Rodrigo Palacio threaded in by Fredy Guarín however a combination of Daniele Portanova and Luca Antonelli managed to shepherd the ball out for a corner. The resulting set piece reached the head of Andrea Ranocchia but the defender's header was misguided and went wide.
Although chances were in short supply, Inter were playing with a freedom and energy that appeared to be lacking under Stramaccioni, the new manager Mazzarri clearly providing new emphasis for a side that looked incredibly weary under the previous regime.
It took a further 15 minutes for another chance to materialise, Jonathan Cicero, looking lively at right wing-back for Inter, was played into the area by Ricky Álvarez, the Brazilian's shot from a tight angle flashing across the face of goal with nobody there to poke the ball home.
Inter calmly dominated possession and Genoa rarely threatened but only a long-range drive from Zdravko Kuzmanovic that sailed harmlessly over caused any real concern between Jonathan's effort and half time.
Early in the second half, Mazzarri brought on Mauro Icardi for Kuzmanovic and thereafter Inter looked a far livelier prospect, Icardi getting involved instantly to force a save out of Mattia Perin with a header from Hugo Campagnaro's cross.
Genoa managed to carve a chance out of nowhere, Juraj Kucka ghosting in behind the Inter defence to get on the end of Mario Santana's through ball, however the Slovakian's touch took him out too wide. When Inter regained possession, they instantly went on the counter and Fredy Guarín's lung-busting run resulted in the Colombian flashing a shot across the face of goal, centimetres from the sprawling foot of Rodrigo Palacio.
There was a sense that an Inter goal was imminent as the home side continued to ramp up the pressure and really push Genoa back into their own half, and sure enough on 75 minutes the deadlock was broken. The impressive Jonathan Cicero looped a cross over the stranded Perin and Yuto Nagatomo and Palacio arrived at the same time at the back post, the Japanese international just getting the touch to give the Nerazzuri the lead.
Mauro Icardi continued to look lively and his header from a Ricky Alvarez corner cannoned back off the crossbar with Perin beaten all ends up, the Genoa goalkeeper being called into action seconds later as Andrea Ranocchia's header from a second corner threatened were it not for an acrobatic save from the young custodian.
Inter then sealed the points two minutes into injury time as the team effectively countered and Palacio turned a smart left-footed finish past Perin to ensure Mazzarri's first league match as Inter manager ended in victory.
Inter: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Kuzmanovic (Icardi 51), Guarín, Cambiasso (Kovacic 72), Nagatomo; Álvarez (Taïder 85); Palacio
Goals: Nagatomo 75, Palacio 90 +2
Genoa: Perin; Vrsaljko, Manfredini, Portanova, Antonelli; Cofie (Sturaro 89), Lodi, Kucka; Bertolacci (Konaté 71), Santana (Floro Flores 85); Gilardino