Class is dismissed for a few days as Joe Schmidt's squad take a break following an intense fortnight of Six Nations
The players can forget about 'learnings' and 'work-ons' for now, but they will be back on the clock later this week as attention turns to the third-round meeting with the Azzurri in Rome. An opening-day loss to England and Saturday's redemptive win against the Scots sees Ireland sit fourth in the championship standings.
gives a mid-term report of Ireland's Six Nations campaign to date.
THE HEAD COACH
Stuart Lancaster observed that, as painful as losses can be, coaches inevitably learn more from them in the long run. No doubt, Schmidt will have examined every element of that England thrashing in forensic detail.
Ireland's head coach very much had the measure of the Eddie Jones regime in the previous two championships: derailing England's bid for back-to-back Grand Slams with a 13-9 shutdown in Dublin before masterminding Ireland's own clean sweep in Twickenham last season.
Jones promised brutality ahead of that Lansdowne Road visit and England duly delivered a relentless display of physicality for 80 minutes. It's rare that Ireland are out-fought and out-thought these days with England providing a blueprint to thwart Schmidt's green machine.
Schmidt admitted that Ireland were not their usual dynamic selves in the lead-up to that game. It was a painful lesson for him and his squad, but better to suffer that trauma now than at the World Cup in Japan.
Schmidt returned to form last weekend against Scotland with a trademark playbook move resulting in Jacob Stockdale's brilliant try.
Interestingly, it was the first time that Ireland rolled out that strike play in a big game, a sign that their canny Kiwi coach still retains that ability to unlock opposition defences.
A work in progress. There remains a nagging sense that this Ireland set-up is far too reliant on Johnny Sexton when it comes to breaking down opposition defences. Scotland were not the first team to realise this and the home forwards were duly sent out to unsettle Ireland's conductor-in-chief at every opportunity.
Sexton had a central role in Ireland's first two tries in Edinburgh before he left the field battered and broken after 24 minutes. His aggressive, flat attacking style is the key component to bringing Ireland's power runners into the game, but it leaves him vulnerable to late hits and he copped four of them in Murrayfield.
His cause has not been helped by the form of Conor Murray and Bundee Aki. After an off-colour display against England, Murray was much improved last Saturday, but is still some way off his customary sharpness in attack while Aki has failed to convince in the secondary playmaking role, or 'second five-eighth' as the Kiwis would call it.
The tactic of direct carries from the likes of Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan and the now injured CJ Stander has not reaped the same dividends as previous seasons, either. England were waiting for their hosts' heavy artillery and stopped them at source. Ryan admitted after that game that Ireland need a bit more variation in attack. A definite area for growth.
After watching his much-vaunted defensive system leak four tries against England, defence coach Andy Farrell will have been most pleased with a return to form against the Scots.
Scotland's only try of the game came from Joey Carbery's intercept pass and there was a notable step up in intensity and organisation in Murrayfield.
That defensive set just before half-time (when Ireland repelled the hosts for 25 phases) will have been noted. That Ireland did it without their defensive fulcrum Garry Ringrose is another positive. It was a welcome return to the same ruthless defence that delivered a Grand Slam and victory over the All Blacks last year.
Despite Ireland's wobbles in other areas, the scrum and lineout have remained ever-reliable sources of possession in the championship so far.
Greg Feek has overseen a rock-solid scrum with Ireland winning 13 of their scrums, a 100 per cent success rate on their own feed. The emergence of Dave Kilcoyne as another option at loosehead has been the biggest boost for Feek.
Kilcoyne has slimmed down this season and seems to have improved his discipline as well. He made an eye-catching cameo from the bench in Edinburgh and is another prop to add to Ireland's frontrow stocks ahead of the big assignment in Japan.
Jack McGrath - who has dropped down the pecking order this season after suffering a hip injury - needs a big shift for Leinster this weekend to force his way back into the reckoning.
Despite losing Devin Toner for the Scotland trip, Ireland's lineout held up well with Quinn Roux running a slick operation despite his inexperience.
Save for one crooked throw from Rory Best before half-time in the England game, Simon Easterby can be happy with how the lineout functioned.
STRENGTH IN DEPTH
Schmidt intimated before the Six Nations that he had one eye on Japan and he confirmed that viewpoint last weekend.
The selection of Robbie Henshaw at full-back first up against England looked very much a nod towards the World Cup as was the selection of the uncapped Connacht trio of Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell in the pre-tournament training squad.
Injuries have forced Schmidt to experiment further with Chris Farrell and the aforementioned Roux promoted to the starting line-up last time out.
The trip to Rome looks another prime opportunity for more experimentation with the likes of Will Addison, who is due a run out with Ulster this weekend, Sean Cronin and Carbery in the frame for their first tournament starts.
A strong finish to the Six Nations is important for team morale, but the make-up of that 31-man squad that will board the flight to Tokyo will be at the forefront of Schmidt's thinking.
Plenty of room to improve. England loss exposed some real issues. World Cup now the primary focus.