While the Italian breakdown tactics and Eddie Jones' acerbic response dominated much of the post round three Six Nations discussion, that was merely a sidelight to some intriguing and compelling individual displays, writes Campbell Burnes.
15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
The Scottish fullback is firming as one of the custodians for the Lions tour. His sparkling attacking form was again to the fore against Wales, almost scoring a fine solo try and generally being at the heart of the Scottish offensive thrust.
14 Jack Nowell (England)
Two tries and two clean breaks in 25 minutes off the bench against Italy. Good enough for this team.
13 Michele Campagnaro (Italy)
He looked the most likely on attack of the Italian backs and scored a superb second half solo try.
12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Safe, solid and accurate in Ireland's midfield, an ideal foil for Jonny Sexton, who is fast getting back to his best.
11 Tim Visser (Scotland)
Scotland's flying Dutchman had his hands full marking George North, but responded with a try, a trysaving tackle on Rhys Webb and some fierce, robust running and taking of contact.
10 Finn Russell (Scotland)
Sexton may have got the nod, but we bow to Finn Russell, the Glasgow pivot, who won the official man of the match against Wales, principally due to his flawless seven from seven exhibition off the tee, but also for his generalship.
9 Conor Murray (Ireland)
The Ireland No 9 continues the form he showed against the All Blacks in November, scoring a try from close range, box kicking expertly and giving his French opposite - the promising Baptiste Serin - a masterclass in international halfback play.
8 Sergio Parisse (Italy)
The 124-test capped Italian captain is always at the heart of all that is good about the Azzurri's rugby and for most of the defeat to England he was in the thick of the exchanges or showing glimpses of his exquisite skill level.
7 Kevin Gourdon (France)
France's No 7 put in a huge defensive shift against Ireland at the Aviva, making 22 tackles for no misses in what turned into a rugged, intense forwards battle after the rain came down in the second stanza.
6 Maro Itoje (England)
Johnny Barclay and CJ Stander had their claims, but the England blindside made four turnovers and rolled his sleeves up once England had worked out how to combat Italy's effective tactics at the ruck.
5 Jonny Gray (Scotland)
Scotland needed quality output from the Gray brothers up against a seasoned performed such as Alun Wyn Jones. Jonny Gray delivered in spades, winning his ball and making no less than 15 carries.
4 Joe Launchbury (England)
A moment in the second spell summed up Joe Launchbury's display. He hurtled towards the Italian line with no concern for his body and broke through in a classic 'follow me' big play. He was the spark for England's resurgent pack.
3 Dan Cole (England)
Tadhg Furlong will have his fans, but the England tighthead scored his side's first try off a lineout drive and more than held his end up in the scrum.
2 Guilhem Ghirado (France)
France's captain plays with aggression and accuracy, as exemplified by his 20 tackles with just one miss against Ireland. Shame they cannot pick him for the Lions.
1 Jack McGrath (Ireland)
He has an almighty battle for Ireland's No 1 jersey with Cian Healy, which might just be bringing the best out of McGrath. He hauled himself back into the set-piece contest after some early French dominance.