For all the impact made by his seven changes in securing Ireland's win in Rome on Saturday, head coach Andy Farrell reserved special praise for his returning captain Johnny Sexton.
While inclusions like Will Connors, who scored two tries, and the entirely revised front-row stamped their authority on the victory against an Italy team below even their recent standards, there was little doubting it was the side's much-discussed 35-year-old out-half making their sharper back-line tick.
Although everything that Ireland produced in the Stadio Olimpico comes with the usual caveat regarding the strength of their opposition, the first win of their championship at the third attempt was, regardless, a good day for the skipper.
"His performance was excellent but it's more than that," reflected Farrell. "The lessons that can be learnt from Johnny, from his experience, is in how you make people feel, how you approach a week, how you attack a weekend, a game when there's a little bit of pressure that's on you as well, and how you make people feel confident and how you make the group feel confident.
"But Johnny has been world-class at that for most of his life and most of his career. That's why he is where he's at. He's led outstandingly well and he's made the group feel really good about themselves this week.
"He's influenced others to step up to that plate and they're growing. The leadership is growing but the individuals within the group are learning that lesson as well."
Sexton himself, though, was especially taken with the attitude displayed by one of the side's debutants in the game, scrum-half Craig Casey.
The Munster number nine sat on the bench for all 80 minutes of the defeat to France last time out, denied an expected debut when Farrell stuck with Jamison Gibson-Park for the duration of the Aviva Stadium reverse.
Getting his belated opportunity in Rome after his Thomond Park colleague Conor Murray was again denied with a hamstring injury, the 21-year-old looked assured as a late replacement, with his speed of pass able to lift the tempo of what had to that point been a more laboured second-half performance
"Craig Casey, I didn't know him that well obviously - I had never played with him - but his attitude, I don't think I have ever come across anyone like him," said Sexton. "It kind of reminds me of what I read about Jonny Wilkinson - that is the only person I can relate him to. It is inspiring for the rest of the group and for someone like me, at this stage in my career.
"I like to be last off the pitch and I am never last off the pitch with him around. He has been brilliant."
It was with Casey's help that Ireland finished the game on a high, Keith Earls going over for their sixth score as time ran out.
While the comfortable victory was an improvement on the weeks gone by, Sexton said simultaneously that the issues of rounds one and two are not eradicated while stressing that he firmly believes the side are on the right trajectory.
"If you think about the Wales game, we played the game with 14 men. We think we would have played like that (in Cardiff with 15 men). We were a bit frustrated after the French game as the things we talked about during the week we did not deliver.
"We will probably look back and regret that we didn't play to our potential and we didn't execute the game plan as best we could.
"Each game has been different. I suppose (Saturday) was an accumulation of both weeks and a coming together, but it doesn't mean everything is fixed now. We've got to keep improving.
"Obviously (there are) massive tests ahead. Going to Murrayfield, it is always an incredibly tough game and then a six day turnaround to play England.
"It is still all to do. If we get a couple of results in our last games, it will be an OK championship. It will be one that might have been, but we want to finish on a high, that's what we said after the French game.
"We have come in for some flack over the last few weeks but, internally as a group, I don't think we have ever been more confident about where we are going and what we can produce. I mean that properly.
"With the coaches that we have and the leadership group coming out of their shells, this group is on the right trajectory. I properly believe that."
The squad has now broken camp and will regather later in the week to prepare for the trip to face Scotland on March 14.
With a fallow weekend coming, Farrell expects to release a number of players back to their provinces for the PRO14 interpros.
"There's a couple of lads that have got a chance to play this weekend at their provinces and there's some interprovincial games next weekend as well," he added. "We'll look at them again but there's a nice flow to the next couple of weeks really because the Scotland game is after the interprovincials. They're a Friday and a Saturday fixture and our game is on (the next) Sunday so some guys are able to get a bit more game time. There's lads that need that."