Running some user-load tests with jmeter, and observed that for every page load following the first load, the burden dimensions offer a similar experience. This leads me to think that jmeter's simulation doesn't use browser cache emulation (e.g. the caching of css and javascript). Anybody are conscious of a technique for emulating browser cache in jmeter?

Try adding the Config Element HTTP Cache Manager introduced in JMeter v2.3.2

A good example is here now:

http://jakarta.apache.org/jmeter/usermanual/component_reference.html#HTTP_Cache_Manager

Of note, JMETER does not download dependent files unless of course you specify to download all content.