Tonight at Kingspan Stadium one of Ulster's greatest-ever European performances saw Les Kiss' side trounce top French outfit Toulouse to the tune of five unanswered tries, injecting a new lease of life into their campaign in Pool One of the Champions Cup.
With Nick Williams, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey and Chris Henry all on the scoresheet, the bonus-point win elevates Ulster above Toulouse in the standings with five points and a game in hand, and the one-sided nature of the performance will surely give the team every confidence of getting a result in the return game next weekend.
Although bereft of half-a-dozen game-changers in the form of Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe, Stuart Olding, Darren Cave, Iain Henderson and Dan Tuohy, all absent through injury, Les Kiss' selection was a testament to Ulster's strength in depth, with all of their starting XV having featured in the top tier of European competition before.
Louis Ludik reverted to full-back for the clash, with Andrew Trimble and the returning Craig Gilroy on the wings. Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey teamed up in the centre, with Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar orchestrating play from the half-backs.
Up front, November's player of the month Kyle McCall and Wiehahn Herbst propped either side of captain Rory Best, with Alan O'Connor filling the Tuohy-sized gap alongside Franco van der Merwe. In the back row, Robbie Diack came in at flanker with Chris Henry the other side of Nick Williams.
Toulouse - slow to start in their previous pool game against Oyonnax - enjoyed some early ball but crucially failed to do anything of note with it, and when Trimble led a three-on-two overlap down the left wing on five minutes, Ulster looked dangerous until Williams was pulled up for holding on too long in the tackle.
Then a quick tap-penalty from Pienaar, followed by some fleet handling from his back five, got Ulster well into the French '22', where staunch resistance eventually prised back possession for the visitors - not without its price though, as stellar Number Eight Louis Picamoles exited through injury moments later, replaced by Gillian Gala.
Exemplifying Ulster's ambitious approach, Jackson kicked two successive penalties to touch, the second of which saw Williams bulldoze his way over the line from Diack's neat offload on 22 minutes, with Jackson adding the extras.
The out-half then showed voracious appetite hunting down a loose ball in midfield and forcing his opposite number Luke McAlister into the infringement. The well-worked Ulster lineout saw Jackson once more heavily involved as he ploughed for the line as the ball was sprayed wide, only for scrum-half Sébastien Bézy to illegally impede the Ulster progress with a hand in the ruck, for which he saw yellow.
Jackson slotted the penalty, but, unfortunately for Ulster, Williams was soon to join Bézy in the dug-out, a victim of his own exuberance as he led a little too forcefully with his shoulder for referee Wayne Barnes' liking when attempting to clear Vincent Clerc out of a ruck.
But there was plenty of incident left to be played out in an eventful first half, as an inspired move from Trimble, picking up infield from Pienaar to chip over Arthur Bonneval, pick up round the back and charge over for a fanstastic solo try.
Jackson converted and, worse still for Toulouse, flanker Yacouba Camara was sent to the bin for an intentional trip on Pienaar in the build-up to the try.
Half-Time Score Ulster 17 Toulouse 0
Ulster burst into the second half in a similarly combative mood, with strong carrying from both Ludik and McCloskey carving out a little left-wing space for Gilroy, who hared for the line only to be mown down with inches to spare by a fantastic tackle from Clerc, whose impact caused the winger to drop the ball.
It mattered little, however, as Ulster's very next attack culminated on 45 minutes with Marshall perfectly judging the flight of Pienaar's somewhat speculative crossfield kick off the back of a ruck to touch down behind the posts.
Jackson's third conversion dispatched, another penalty to touch paid dividends, McCloskey securing the bonus point on 53 minutes with a weaving run which outfoxed three prospective tacklers before he hit the line.
Toulouse probed and prodded as the clock ran into the final quarter, but again their possession lacked focus and penetration and, when Ulster got back on the ball and pushed upfield on 71 minutes, the outcome was inevitable, Henry touching down off the rolling maul.
Replacement out-half Ian Humphreys topped off the perfect night with a pinpoint conversion, and while next Sunday's return match at the Stade Ernest Wallon will be an entirely different affair, all the pressure will be on the Frenchmen to salvage their European season, and nothing less than a bonus-point victory will suffice.
Full-Time Score Ulster 38 Toulouse 0
(15 - 9) Louis Ludik; Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar
(1 - 8) Kyle McCall, Rory Best (c), Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O'Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams
Replacements (16 - 23) Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Clive Ross, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes
(15 - 9) Clément Poitrenaud; Vincent Clerc, Gael Fickou, Toby Flood, Maxime Médard; Luke McAlister, Sébastien Bézy
(1 - 8) Vasil Kakovin, Corey Flynn, Census Johnston, Yoann Maestri, Joe Tekori, Yacouba Camara, Thierry Dusautoir (c), Luis Picamoles
Replacements (16 - 23) Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille, Dorian Aldegheri, Edwin Maka, Gregory Lamboley, Gillian Galan, Jean-Marc Doussian, Alexis Palisson