The partnership of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson appeared set to be beaten in the Ryder Cup for the first time as the United States made the stronger start on the opening morning of action at Hazeltine.
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were two up on Europe's lead pairing at the turn, despite Rose and Stenson winning the ninth, while there was also a commanding lead for Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, three up over Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters through six.
As the opening foursomes progressed, the only blue on the scoreboard came courtesy of Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, after Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan were pegged back by Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
The first match had been pinpointed as a key contest, given both pairings had avoided defeat at Gleneagles two years ago.
Reed and Spieth swiftly seized the initiative, the latter rolling in birdie putts at the second and third to win both holes.
Spieth then thrilled the home fans with a wonderful approach to the seventh, which Reed capitalised on to leave Stenson and Rose - 5 and 4 winners over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in the first match of the 2014 event - three down and staring at a first loss together.
Birdies proved hard to come by in the other contests as Hazeltine offered up a stern test.
McIlroy's work on the greens has been a hot topic in 2016, but the in-form world number three was rock-solid over a succession of short putts as he and rookie Sullivan initially took advantage of some erratic play from Mickelson and Fowler, who ran up a seven on the sixth hole.
McIlroy found a hazard at the seventh, though, allowing Mickelson and Fowler to halve their deficit, and a poor tee shot from the Northern Irishman at the par-three eighth led to a second straight American win.
Garcia and Martin Kaymer were one up on Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson through six, thanks largely to the American duo starting with successive bogeys.
In the final match, Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters faced a huge task to avoid defeat against Johnson and Kuchar. The veteran Englishman has often starred for Europe in past Ryder Cups but looked well short of his best early on.