Mallett's four-year stint in charge of the Azzurri will come to an end after the World Cup - with Jacques Brunel set to replace him.
However Mallett doesn't want Sunday's encounter with Ireland to be his last and the South African has set his sights on a historic place in the quarter-finals.
Victory over Ireland in Dunedin would see Italy reach the last eight for the first time and underline the hard work Mallett has put in to turn the country around.
Although Italy have only won nine of the 41 games under Mallett, the Azzurri have become much more competitive and come on leaps and bounds from the side that both New Zealand and England previously thumped by a century of points.
France found out in the Six Nationshow dangerous they now are, with Italy recording a historic first win over Les Bleus.
However Mallett believes the 13-11 defeat to Sunday's opponents Ireland underlined the transformation in the side.
"A lot of times in the past they've been disappointed to lose but pleased to run the opposition close but there was genuine disappointment they hadn't managed to hold out and win that game," said Mallet, who has previously coached South Africa and Stade Francais.
"It meant the team had started to believe it wasn't just good enough to be competitive it was really important to win the tight games. That experience helped us against France when we got into a very similar situation and hung in there and came out with a victory.
"That's a mental side of this Italian side that has improved a lot over the four years."
And Mallett insists that mentality means his side go into the crunch clash at Otago Stadium confident they can secure a place in the last eight.
"Our whole objective for two years has been to get to this point," said Mallett.
"If we play really well, which we will have to against a very good team, we have a chance of getting to the quarter-finals ... and there is a genuine belief that we are getting better."
Regardless of the result on Sunday, the 54-year-old will be able to walk away with his head held high.
"History will tell only once you've been away for a while, whether you've been a successful coach or not but in terms of the relationship I have with the team and the staff, it's been a great four years," Mallett said.
"I've enjoyed the last two years probably as much as I've enjoyed coaching any team."
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