Coming into Wimbledon, Robson had won just one match in her last three tournaments, yet there was an unfettered manner in her play out on No.1 Court that made a mockery of her recent struggles.
Robson's 63 64 victory over Kirilenko was her fourth over a Top 10 player and a timely reminder of the talent that first emerged as a junior and then again, with the entire tennis world watching on, at last year's US Open. Striking her serve and groundstrokes with a calm authority, the Brit looked in control from the outset, and converted her superiority onto the scoreboard when she broke for a 5-3 lead.
The set soon followed, and with the winners continuing to flow she secured an early break at the start of the second. Kirilenko had no answer to the onslaught and fell a further break behind after watching another ferocious forehand whistle past.
A late rally from the Russian, who reached the quarterfinals 12 months ago, saw her wipe out one of the breaks and caused a few nervous moments for the home crowd. But there was to be no comeback, Robson converting her first match point with a curling forehand that scraped the outer edge of the sideline.
"I was so nervous, right up until the last point," Robson said in her post-match interview. "I was walking to the net not totally sure if my forehand was in or not!
"That was a big one for me because of all the nerves and playing in front of my home crowd.
"I could have gone 5-1 up in the second and I lost my focus a little bit when I started thinking about winning. So I just tried to get back to focusing point by point."
"Any big win gives you lots of confidence so I'm going to go into the next match feeling good and try to recreate the same level of focus," Robson added. "I served really well and that's something I need to continue with.
"I'm still going match by match, and I just have to play my own game and stay focused. I'm playing Duque Marino next and she's tough, very consistent and has got quite a nasty little slice. It's going to be a tough match."
Watson, playing just her fourth tournament since returning from two months out with glandular fever, was on the back foot for much of the encounter, as Keys produced a powerful performance that belied her tender years.
An imposing serving display, backed up by two breaks gave Keys the opener and despite falling behind in the second, she recovered to run out a 63 75 winner.
"Madison played well and served really well throughout the match," Watson said. "I knew going in it was going to be a tough one and it was - she's definitely a player to look out for in the future.
"I don't feel like my game's there yet, so that will come back with time and time on the practice court.
"It was unlucky. But, at the end of the day, I was a break up anyway in the second set and I shouldn't have lost it."