A second goal of the season from striker Taiwo Atieno brought Town's 15-game unbeaten run to an end at Plainmoor with the Robins finishing Boxing Day with defeat.
Town named an unchanged line-up for the game with Lukas Magera and Jake Jervis continuing in the frontline against a Torquay side managed by former Swindon favourite Martin Ling. The Gulls went into the game without Rene Howe (suspension) and Swindon loanee Billy Bodin who was unable to face his parent club.
It was the home side, playing in front of a capacity crowd, who made the better start with Ling's side enjoying a plethora of possession early on. Wes Foderingham had to save a low effort from Lee Mansell on five minutes but the stopper was up to the task and gathered with ease.
The Robins had a penalty appeal turned down on 13 minutes with a low cross from loanee left-back Liam Ridehalgh finding Magera but his shot was blocked with the Czech striker appealing for a spot-kick.
Foderingham was called into action again on the quarter of an hour mark with a perfectly-timed punch to nick the ball away from the oncoming Taiwo Atieno. The home side then continued to pile on the pressure with Foderingham punching clear once again before Aden Flint headed wide at the other end following a Town corner.
It was Torquay who took the lead on 34 minutes with Atieno making his mark after being recalled to the side. A ball back across goal was not dealt with by the Town defence with Atieno on hand to fire in the opening goal of the game - his second of the season. Town had a chance to get back on level terms just before the break but saw a shot from Ritchie balloon over following a good block, before the resulting corner was cleared. Having gone in a goal down at the break, Di Canio made one change with Magera replaced by former Torquay loanee Ronan Murray. Swindon made plenty of the early running in the second period with Ritchie seeing plenty of ball out wide. Torquay's Ian Morris forced a save from Foderingham on 64 minutes with the midfielder's effort from just outside the box gathered by the on-loan Town stopper.
Di Canio's next move saw a second change of the afternoon with Spaniard Lander Gabilondo replace De Vita out wide on the left in a bid to kick-start Town's day. The winger's second touch of the game saw him jink past one challenge before seeing his shot blocked. Substitute Murray had a great chance to get his side back on level terms on 76 minutes with a decent opportunity but he saw his effort superbly saved by Olejnik in front of the 1,000 or so Town fans behind the goal. The loanee then came to Town's rescue at the other end with a header off the line to deny Atieno whose header looked destined for the corner of the net until the Irishman's intervention.
With ten minutes to go Di Canio introduced former Torquay frontman Alan Connell into the action, replacing Birmingham City loanee Jervis. A run from Murray was then brought to an abrupt end on 82 minutes with Murray hauled down by Ellis as he chased down on goal. Despite throwing Flint up front for the final stages of the game - which included four minutes of added time - the Robins were unable to secure a share of the spoils. Di Canio will now have to look to the last game of 2011 - a New Year's Eve trip to Northampton Town - to kick-start another unbeaten run in League 2.