Ireland, sitting proudly on top of the RBS 6 Nations table after the opening two rounds, were counting the cost of a frenetic start to the new condensed championship.
The Irish made it two wins in seven days, both of them away from home, with an emphatic 37-13 success over Italy.
However, already shorn of a trio of first-choice backs through injury, Ireland suffered another body blow with the loss of loose-head prop Reggie Corrigan, who will miss the rest of the championship after breaking a wrist at the Stadio Flaminio.
With hooker Keith Wood still sidelined with a long-term shoulder problem, Ireland's resources are already being severely stretched.
"Losing Reggie is a blow, he's one of our leaders," said winger Denis Hickie.
A five-try triumph over the fired-up Italians was not without its blemishes but the Azzurri are no pushovers under former All Black wing John Kirwan, as Wales found to their cost.
"When we came off the pitch, we were a little bit disappointed with the way we played," said Hickie.
"Humphs had a good game but a few of us were not particularly happy with our performances.
"But, as the night wore on, we realised that the effect of the Scotland game six days earlier and all the travelling probably caught up with us a bit. We were a bit lethargic.
"It's very hard to play against Italy and we were away from home. The Italians are totally unrecognisable from the team they were in terms of organisation and defence. They are a hard nut to crack.
"Having scored five tries and won by a good margin, it was a good result."
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.