A six-try second half, in which Ulster wing Tommy Bowe bagged a debut try, saw Ireland fend off the stubborn challenge of the US Eagles 55-6 at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Eddie O'Sullivan's side - showing nine changes from the one which edged Tri-Nations champions South Africa 17-12 last weeekend - profited from some encouraging displays from their fringe players, most notably man-of-the-match Eric Miller, who crossed for the opening try on 24 minutes and led with an impressive 11 ball carries.
As a spectacle, it was never going to hit the heights of the victory over the Springboks, and the plump rain clouds overhead ensured that.
But turning with the wind in the second half, the green machine cranked up the pace with Geordan Murphy (2), Bowe and Munster trio Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan and Peter Stringer each touching down in front of a 38,376 attendance.
A professional job was meted out in difficult conditions - with the half century of points the highlight of Ireland's sixth win from nine outings in 2004 - a run which, coupled with victory over Argentina next weekend, could see them end the year as the fifth-ranked side in the world.
Bowe's provincial colleague David Humphreys, who began the day on 491 points, ended his first international start since October 2003's World Cup Pool A clash with the Pumas, with a 20-point haul - breaking him through the 500-point barrier, with Argentine legend Hugo Porta his next target on the World points ladder at 529.
Flawless kicking from the 33-year-old, who slammed over seven conversions and two penalties, saw his coach reserve special mention for the 65-cap veteran.
"It was top-drawer to kick nine out of nine in those conditions," said O'Sullivan of Humphrey's feat. "David's line-kicking in the second half killed the Americans. He was kicking them back 50 metres. He probably needed that game because he looked a bit rusty at the start but as the game went on, he grew into it."
Eagles' fly-half Mike Hercus' 17th minute penalty, sandwiched by two Humphreys' efforts, was just reward for a solid, if not spectacular start from Tom Billups' visitors. With their good work undone by Miller's try, set up by Bowe's kick-collect and incisive drives from fellow debutant Denis Leamy and full back Murphy, and flanker Brian Surgener's sin-binning for offside, the Americans however failed to panic.
Hercus' second penalty on 33 minutes kept them interested at 13-6 down at half time, although Murphy's side-step score around Francis Viljoen fifty seconds after the restart ended the game as a contest. The Eagles - moulded around their four European-based professionals, who included Sale Sharks' Hercus and skipper Kort Schubert of the Cardiff Blues - tired understandably due to a four-month lay-off, and an exhaustive tally of 134 tackles.
Ireland missed just one tackle in the whole 80 minutes, and with their try line unthreatened, Murphy was fed by skipper Brian O'Driscoll's snapped pass on 55 minutes for the eighth of his 13 test tries from his preferred position of full back. O'Driscoll's superb distribution was key throughout, and even with a slippery ball in hand, the 25-year-old centre, together with Leinster team mate Shane Horgan, set Bowe shuttling down the left flank on the hour to score under Viljoen's corner flag tackle.
The Irish were buoyant at this stage, and getting into the stride, the pack bossed the final quarter with the influential Horan bulldozing over from close range for a 41-6 lead, and sprinting 40 metres to aid hooker Sheahan's pick-and-go effort with nine minutes remaining. Ireland ended the match with Simon Best and Leo Cullen deservedly getting some Test experience, and substitute Stringer's injury time snipe over at the right corner saw the Shannon scrum-half celebrate his fiftieth appearance with his fourth international try.
A tough day at the office, but a necessary one that sets up Ireland nicely for next weeks game against Argentina.
Scoring Sequence 8 minutes: Ireland penalty: David Humphreys - 3-0 17: USA pen: Mike Hercus - 3-3 19: Ireland pen: Humphreys - 6-3 24: Ireland try: Eric Miller - 11-3; conversion: Humphreys - 13-3 27: USA sin-binning: Brian Surgener (persistent offside) 33: USA pen: Hercus - 13-6 HT: Ireland 13 USA 6 41: Ireland try: Geordan Murphy - 18-6; con: Humphreys - 20-6 55: Ireland try: Murphy - 25-6; con: Humphreys - 27-6 58: Ireland try: Tommy Bowe - 32-6; con: Humphreys - 34-6 64: Ireland try: Marcus Horan - 39-6; con: Humphreys - 41-6 71: Ireland try: Frankie Sheahan - 46-6; con: Humphreys - 48-6 80: Ireland try: Peter Stringer - 53-6; con: Humphreys - 55-6 FT: Ireland 55 USA 6
IRELAND: G Murphy; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (Capt), K Maggs, T Bowe; D Humphreys, G Easterby; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Easterby, D Leamy, E Miller. Replacements: S Byrne, S Best, L Cullen, A Foley, P Stringer, R O'Gara, G Dempsey. Subs used: P Stringer for G Easterby (66 mins), S Best and L Cullen for Hayes and O'Connell (both 68), A Foley for S Easterby (73), G Dempsey for O'Driscoll (77)
USA: F Viljoen; A Lakomskis, P Emerick, S Sika, D Fee; M Hercus, M Timoteo; M MacDonald, M Wyatt, J Waasdorp, A Parker, G Klerck, B Surgener, T Petruzzella, K Schubert (Capt). Replacements: M Hobson, C Osentowski, J Gouws, F Mo'unga, D Williams, M Sherman, A Tuipulotu. Subs used: A Tuipulotu for Fee (ht), F Mo'unga for Petruzzella (48 mins), D Williams for Timoteo (62) Sin bin: Brian Surgener (27 mins)
Attendance: 28,376 Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland)