A glimpse into the future for Irish rugby. And also, perhaps, the future of Declan Kidney.
It may have been a non-contest and a non-event but Saturday's jaunt in Limerick offered significant pointers for the future of this international rugby team. And, perhaps, if Kidney's men conspire to see off the Pumas next weekend, the head coach might still be around to help usher in the next generation of Irish talent.
Sooner rather than later, the phalanx of young stars who thrilled in the eight-try romp against the hapless Fijians will become embedded in Irish squads. Kidney admitted as much in the aftermath. However, only Craig Gilroy, the hat-trick hero, did enough to persuade that he could immediately be offered promotion – and that partly because Andrew Trimble unfortunately played himself out of the side against South Africa.
For the rest, their time will come; just not yet.
Lamentably, the opposition's pathetic pretence at competitiveness rendered any decent analysis redundant. Evaluating the challenge of Argentina through the prism of this Fiji mob is a risible exercise; far better to compare the South Pacific islanders with an All- Ireland League team.
At least a domestic club side would make their tackles; the Fijians missed 25 and waved Irish players through like traffic wardens all evening. As an exercise in futility, this fit the bill with sad perfection.
The IRFU knew that they couldn't dupe the public into thinking that this was a full international. The head coach, despite his well-intentioned praise in the aftermath, won't be fooled either.
As Limerick's passionate rugby support debated the merits of the evening in Peter Clohessy's bar, sceptics vastly outnumbered those who seriously believed that this night would have any relevance on next week's scrap for world ranking points.
Still, for a side enmeshed in a losing cycle and worryingly haemorrhaging public sympathy, the morale boost will be a considerable boon to a collective who have finally reaped some tangible rewards. And yet, notwithstanding the temporary feelgood factor emanating from Saturday night's work, storm clouds will reappear should Ireland trip up in five days' time and forfeit their second seeding for the World Cup in 2015.
"It's going to be a totally different type of game next week," admitted Kidney, whose five-game losing Test streak remained unaffected by this romp. "Tonight was all about giving fellas opportunities and you saw how they went with it, they stood up to it.
"They can but play who's in front of them. In terms of changes for the next day, we'll just have to weigh up when you look at it in the cold light of day."
The cold light of day will evict much of the hot air surrounding the display. Nevertheless, all of the 'Three Amigos' – Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall and Gilroy – along with others like Darren Cave, Dave Kilcoyne and Iain Henderson, hardened their respective cases to backbone this squad at the next World Cup.
The Six Nations will probably admit their talents, too. The freshness of the new faces prompted a different buzz about the post-match discussions on the bar stools.
"Let the bars have a good night," urged Kidney. "We can't stymie people's opinions. But me being the one entrusted with picking the right ones, there is a responsibility in that. There'll be a few disappointed faces next week but at least now we're starting to build another squad.
"Between retirements and injuries, we've a completely different squad now and for fellas to put their hands up and emphasise that is all the better. It's been a good fixture list for us.
"The more often we get them like that, the better. Tonight was a chance to freshen up things. It would have been easy to stay with the same 15 and give them a run again. But I think overall we'll have benefited from this run."
Clearly, Kidney's hand has been forced in this international window but at least he has maximised the opportunity for replenishment. This is his first real rebuilding job with Ireland; results will dictate whether he will stay around to finish the task.
"The mood in the squad has been good for the last three weeks," he replied when asked to assess the impact of the (unofficial) result. "When there's new faces coming in, I don't think they can train as well as they have been doing unless the mood was good.
"The thing now will be to keep it settled. We have another huge task. If we come out in the second half like we did in these last two weeks, we'll struggle next week.
"They're the bits we're after. Last week was a four-point loss. We've had a few other matches this year where we've let teams go by one or two points. They're the ones that we need to close out because next week's game is going to be a tight one."
Aside from the youthful exuberance that enthused him, Kidney was also keen to ramp up Mike Ross' preparedness for the Puma challenge – the Leinster man wasn't entirely comfortable for the second week in succession.
"Mike Ross needed the game time. He needed to get up to match speed a little bit on the back of his performance last week. I wouldn't hide behind that.
"Some guys need to be playing that bit more regularly and he's one of the guys that needs to be playing regularly. He needed the match practice."
His place too could be in jeopardy but Kidney is unlikely to risk Michael Bent from the beginning. His Leinster colleague Gordon D'Arcy will have watched this fare uncomfortably from his couch, so too Ronan O'Gara as youthful rivals shone.
Both veterans will be integral to Kidney's plan next week, but next year? That remains uncertain.
Marshall and Jackson's promotion will be swift in 2013. Ironically, though, both Luke and Paul Marshall and Gilroy are not yet regulars for Ulster. Fighting for their places there will be a more difficult scrap than what they went through on Saturday night.
As for Ireland, being in decent shape for the Six Nations is all very well. Beating Argentina could yet be a far more urgent requirement, given the perilous state of the world rankings.
How they go about achieving it will influence the IRFU's thinking when they sit down to thrash out the coach's future over the next few weeks.
Ireland – D Hurley (S Zebo 62); F McFadden, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, C Murray (P Marshall 62); D Kilcoyne (C Healy 47), S Cronin (R Strauss 62), M Ross (M Bent 54), D O'Callaghan, D Tuohy; I Henderson, J Muldoon (C Henry 44), J Heaslip (capt, M McCarthy 76).
Fiji – M Talebula; S Koniferedi (S Radidi ), V Goneva, R Fatiaki (T Matanavou h-t), W Votu; J Ralulu, N Matawalu (K Bola 68); J Yanuyanutawa (S Semoca 70), V Veikoso (T Talemaitoga 45), D Manu (capt); L Nakarawa (A Ratuniyarawa 45), A Naikatini; I Ratuva, M Ravulo, N Nagusa (J Domolailai 61).
Ref – L Hidges (WRU)