Pauleta scored a superb hat-trick as Portugal got their World Cup campaign underway in earnest in Jeonju.
Antonio Oliveira's side, who lost humiliatingly to the USA in their opening game, were some way short of their best in the monsoon-like conditions.
But they were still far too good for a desperate Polish side, who went out of the World Cup with a whimper.
Substitute Rui Costa, surprisingly dropped after a poor performance against the USA, completed the rout late on.
Pauleta was sensational, turning in an energetic, skilful performance and he fully deserved to score all three goals.
Keeper Vitor Baia and his defence, who were so awful against the Americans, were also vastly improved.
But Luis Figo offered only glimpses of his best form and still looks to be struggling with injury.
Portugal made two changes, bringing in Joao Pinto for Costa and Nuno Frechaut for Beto, while Poland opted for an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
Portugal struck first blood. Pinto broke from midfield and played a delightful crossfield ball to Pauleta, who was lurking inside the area.
The winger controlled the ball on his knee before turning Tomasz Hajto and firing between Jerzy Dudek and his near post.
Pauleta was outstanding for Portugal
The Liverpool keeper got a hand to the ball and will have been desperately disappointed to have conceded such a goal.
He was at fault for South Korea's first goal on Tuesday and will not have fond memories of this World Cup.
The rest of the first half was notable mainly for the torrential rain that made playing so difficult and resulted in a spate of yellow cards.
But Portugal started to show a glimpse of their potential after the interval.
Pauleta claimed his second goal after 65 minutes, sliding in from close range to convert a superb low cross from Figo.
When there is a good team spirit it is easy to win
Figo then hit the post with a right-footed curler before Pauleta claimed the match ball, showing superb footwork before shooting across Dudek and inside the far post.
Pauleta could have scored two more goals before Rui Costa stretched to convert a Nuno Capucho cross at the death.
Portugal: Baia, Costa, Couto, Jorge, Figo, Petit, Bento, Frechaut (Beto 63), Sergio Conceicao (Capucho 69), Pauleta, Pinto (Rui Costa 60).
Subs Not Used: Andrade, Barbosa, Caneira, Nelson, Nuno Gomes, Ricardo, Sousa, Viana, Xavier.
Booked: Frechaut, Costa, Jorge.
Goals: Pauleta 14, 65, 77, Rui Costa 87.
Poland: Dudek, Kozminski, Waldoch, Hajto, Michal Zewlakow (Rzasa 71), Kryszalowicz, Swierczewski, Kaluzny (Arkadiusz Bak 16), Krzynowek, Olisadebe, Zurawski (Marcin Zewlakow 56). Subs Not Used: Jacek Bak, Glowacki, Klos, Kucharski, Majdan, Matysek, Murawski, Sibik, Zielinski.
Booked: Swierczewski, Arkadiusz Bak.
Referee: H Dallas (Scotland).
MATCH STATS |
| Portugal | Poland |
Corners (1st half) | 2 | 4 |
Corners (2nd half) | 0 | 6 |
Fouls committed | 15 | 21 |
Caught offside | 4 | 1 |
Shots on target | 8 | 7 |
Shots off target | 9 | 12 |
Hit woodwork (back into play) | 1 | 0 |
Yellow cards | 3 | 2 |
Red cards | 0 | 0 |
STOPPAGE TIME | |
First half - 2 mins | Second half - 3 mins |