Cueto launched England on their way to a rout of Romania - and another step closer to qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Cueto, who had touched down just once in his previous 25 Tests, came roaring back into try-scoring form with a quick-fire treble in the space of 12 first-half minutes.
The Sale wing had been a frustrated onlooker during England's opening victories over Argentina and Georgia as he nursed a nagging back injury.
But Cueto wasted little time in making his mark on the tournament as England felled the Mighty Oaks in comprehensive fashion at the Otago Stadium.
Cueto was the third England player to score a World Cup hat-trick, and Chris Ashton became the fourth after Ben Youngs, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Croft had all contributed to the 10-try duck-shoot.
"A World Cup hat-trick rates high among what I've done in my career," said Cueto.
"My old team mate Jason Robinson texted me today to say, 'Good to see you back in the team and, no pressure, but last time I played Romania (in 2001) I scored four'.
"He's still got one on me but it's definitely a nice moment for me and my family to get a hat-trick in a World Cup.
"It's been a frustrating couple of weeks for me, picking up the niggle against Ireland and not being involved in the first two games.
"It was nice to get a run-out and nice to get plenty of ball in the first half."
England's progression to the World Cup quarter-finals will be confirmed if the Scots beat Argentina in tomorrow's Pool B fixture.
Martin Johnson's men would still need to beat Scotland in next weekend's highly-anticipated showdown to win the group and avoid a quarter-final against New Zealand.
After blasting his side as "sloppy" for an indisciplined performance against Georgia last weekend, Johnson was far happier with England's display against Romania's second string.
And Johnson believes England's World Cup campaign now begins in earnest, as the squad head to Auckland to meet the auld enemy.
"We had to go out and play, keep our shape and keep our discipline, which I thought we did generally," said Johnson.
"These games can be awkward. I am pretty happy, it is job done. We go into the last week (of the group stage) with three wins, which is where we wanted to be.
"In certain aspects we didn't get fully tested today but that's what World Cups are about too.
"It's a mental thing this week, getting ourselves ready for the game. It's going to be a big one, it will be a scrap."
Romania had made 11 changes with Wednesday's game against Georgia their priority, and once England found their rhythm the match became little more than an opposed training run.
Croft laid waste to the Romanian lineout, Tuilagi was a constant threat in midfield while captain Lewis Moody was prominent both in attack and defence.
England undermined a bright start by conceding penalties but soon found the ruthless edge Johnson had demanded of them, scoring five tries in each half to put Romania to the sword.
Ashton played a key role in two of Cueto's tries before getting in on the action himself, collecting an inside ball from Wilkinson to score with a classic training-ground move and seal the bonus point.
Ashton then streaked away for his second try three minutes later after excellent work from Louis Deacon and Steve Thompson, who both drew defenders to create the space.
Youngs scored 20 seconds in the second half after launching a counter-attack from inside England territory, and Foden added the seventh following Tuilagi's powerful midfield break.
Tuilagi finished England's eighth try, Croft claimed the ninth and Ashton then wrapped up the win and his hat-trick after Tom Palmer's offload had sparked the attack.
Moody said: "We looked at our performances (after the Georgia game) and we had a lot to improve on. We did that today, the performance across the board was much better and that's what happens when we keep hold of the ball and do the basics right.
"Keeping them out of our tryline was very pleasing. We had a point to prove to ourselves today and we've gone some way towards doing that."
There was one element of controversy on the field when England were warned by referee Romain Poite after Wilkinson twice changed the ball before attempting a conversion.
Johnson said: "Wilko thought one of the balls was slightly less than perfect so he wanted to swap it but the ref said we can't do that so we didn't and we got on with it."
There was an issue at the 2007 World Cup when Wilkinson was twice presented with a practice ball, rather than an official match ball.
A World Cup spokesman said: "England were warned at half-time as they were attempting to use a different ball for kicks at goal.
"They are supposed to use the same ball for conversions with which they have scored the try. It happened twice and they were told to desist, which they did."
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