Cunnington, 21, racked up possessions at stoppages and in general play as the hard work he has put in to improve his aerobic fitness in recent seasons looks to be starting to pay off.
Swallow's cure for hot-and-cold Roos
North coach Brad Scott has long had faith that the No.5 pick in the 2009 draft would develop into an elite AFL midfielder and could be proven right this season.
"He played the way he's been training all pre-season so he's starting to do the things that he was doing in under-18 footy," Scott said of Cunnington after the match.
"We've always had great confidence in Ben (and) he's really starting to develop.
"He's still got a fair way to go – he knows that – but he showed today some of the special things he can do."
North vice-captain Drew Petrie defied blustery conditions that were not suited to marking forwards to kick five goals before sitting out the final quarter.
Star midfielder Daniel Wells showed no signs of his recent achilles problems, kicking two goals as he played almost exclusively as a roving forward.
The Roos had a minor scare in the first quarter when Lachie Hansen was taken from the ground after appearing to cop a knock and took no further part in the game.
Scott said after the game Hansen had suffered whiplash to his neck, but would only need to do some strengthening work.
North pitted a team in its away strip, which included Cunnington, Petrie, Wells and most of its established senior players, against an orange team that included some VFL players.
Roos skipper Andrew Swallow was among several players swapped to the orange team during the game, but the blue and white team predictably dominated the match.
The blue and whites started the match with its successful three-pronged forward line of 2012, Petrie, Hansen and Robbie Tarrant, stationed in the forward 50, and a backline consisting of Nathan Grima, Scott Thompson, Michael Firrito, Scott McMahon and Shaun Atley.
Majak Daw joined the blue and white team when Hansen went off, and took several strong marks alternating between attack and the ruck.
Young forwards Aaron Black and Tom Curran impressed with their strong marking. Black kicked three goals, but
Curran failed to convert several gettable chances.
Former Sydney Swan Daniel Currie performed well enough to suggest he could be a valuable backup to Todd Goldstein in the ruck.
The game also marked international rookie Eric Wallace's first match of Australian football. Wallace started in the second quarter but struggled to have an impact in attack for the orange team in the windy conditions. However, the athleticism that convinced the Roos to sign the former US College basketballer was evident in his defensive pressure.
North vice-captain Jack Ziebell missed the game as he continued his recovery from minor knee surgery in January.
Recruits Ben Jacobs (Port Adelaide) and Taylor Hine (Gold Coast) were also among the Roos watching from the sidelines, along with North's first pick in last year's national draft, Taylor Garner.
North now looks ahead to its round one NAB fixture against Richmond and Melbourne next Friday (February 22).
Ben Cunnington is a $387,500 midfielder in NAB AFL Fantasy. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.