Terry missed the crucial penalty in Chelsea’s Champions League defeat to Manchester United a week ago but he exorcised a few demons on Wednesday night as he headed England ahead in the 38th minute.
Gerrard added a second in the 58th minute, in a very impressive introduction to the left-wing role, to leave the rump of Fabio Capello’s squad heading off for a goodwill meeting with Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday in a contented mood, and the Italian believing improvement is being maintained.
Yet, despite boasting seven men involved in last week’s Champions League final, England enthused no-one until Terry’s opener.
Yes, there were moments that caught the eye, most of which involved man-of-the-match Gerrard, but nothing that had a 70,000 crowd on the edge of their rain-sodden seats.
Gerrard has been asked to do a few jobs in his international career. Nothing really prepared him for a left-wing berth, though, and predictably, he kept moving infield.
However, when he did so, it usually meant danger for the United States.
The visitors had already survived one lucky escape when the Liverpool skipper slotted home David Beckham’s curling free-kick, only for the goal to be ruled out because England’s newest centurion had not waited for the whistle.
When Beckham picked Gerrard out with another free-kick, the midfielder’s shot seemed to be heading into the net until Clint Dempsey got his head to it, providing Frank Lampard with a chance from the rebound which he promptly volleyed wide.
Gerrard also set up Beckham and Jermain Defoe, eager to make an impression on his first England start for nearly two years, but neither man could locate the net.
Terry at least put a different complexion on proceedings, even if his fourth goal for his country could hardly make up for his misery at the Luzhniki Stadium.
It might have got Capello thinking though. With one more potential captain – probably Gareth Barry – to see in Trinidad on Sunday, this was Terry’s opportunity to salvage a job given to him by McClaren and which he holds with a passion.
And Terry’s goal was a reminder he is capable of leading from the front in a manner Rio Ferdinand, his central defensive partner and favourite for the job when it is officially handed out prior to the August 20 meeting with the Czech Republic, is not.
The same could be said of Beckham. Even at 33, he is capable of producing moments of total devastation.
He did so again against the country which is now his adopted home, and having ditched him once and regretted it during his days at Real Madrid, Capello is unlikely to do so again.
Beckham’s departure at half-time offered David Bentley some valuable time on the pitch, although clearly it is going to take a long time for the boo-boys in the stands to forget his decision to abandon the England Under-21 squad prior to last summer’s European Championships.
Barry’s arrival was equally noticeable due to the fact he almost immediately threaded Defoe’s lay-off through a tiring USA defence for Gerrard to add a second just before the hour mark.
As Capello’s substitutions mounted, Gerrard remained. Still on the left, yet in some ways not quite.
He was certainly not close to the touchline when he cushioned a header into the path of Wayne Rooney – who was England’s best player on the night – midway through the half, only for the Manchester United man to screw his shot wide.
It was Rooney’s last chance before Joe Cole made his entrance, yet still Gerrard stayed on the left.
Maybe, like Terry, Gerrard and England can look to the future with confidence.