Tonight at Murrayfield Ulster improved after an abject first half display, but late tries from debutant Aaron Cairns and fellow replacement Jacob Stockdale failed to salvage even a losing bonus point against a dynamic Edinburgh side.
Three tries in the first 45 minutes from the Scots threatened to annihilate the visitors, and although Ulster rallied in the final quarter with their replacements impressing in particular, both the performance and the result only add to a disappointing recent run.
Depleted through injury and international commitment, the Ulster backline had an unfamiliar look with rare starting berths for Sam Windsor at centre, Brett Herron at out-half and last week's scoring replacement Rob Lyttle on the wing. More experienced heads in the form of full-back Charles Piutau, winger Tommy Bowe, centre Luke Marshall and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar completed the line.
Tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst and lock Dan Tuohy retained their places up front after making their first appearances of the season last week against Munster, with Kyle McCall and skipper Rob Herring completing the front row, and Franco van der Merwe partnering Tuohy in the engine room. Pete Browne moved to the back row, with Clive Ross on the other flank and Sean Reidy at Number Eight.
Barely two minutes were on the clock when promising Fijian flanker Viliame Mata picked up on the Ulster '22' and brushed off tackles from Marshall and Bowe to power through for a fine individual try, converted by Jason Tovey.
Smarting from their Round Seven overturning at home to Zebre, Edinburgh pressed high and fast, giving Ulster no time on the ball in defence and eventually wrestling back possession for winger Damien Hoyland to ground in the corner on nine minutes.
A long-range penalty from full-back Blair Kinghorn compounded the Ulster misery on 17 minutes, as did surrendered possession at their own maul in their first foray into Edinburgh territory moments later.
A Pienaar penalty which opened the visitors' account was soon cancelled out by Duncan Weir, temporarily on for the injured Tovey, and the former Glasgow man added another on 35 minutes just before the first-choice out-half retook the field.
Pienaar eschewed a further three points a minute from half-time, tapping on a penalty and spreading play wide left at pace to Marshall, only for Windsor to handle the ball in an offside position and bring a miserable first half for Ulster to a fittingly dismal end.
Half-Time Score Edinburgh 21 Ulster 3
Multiple changes at the break seemed to invigorate the Ulstermen, with a trademark diagonal line break from Bowe an early highlight, but it soon proved a red herring as Cornell Du Preez somehow spun through the entire Ulster defence from the back of his own scrum and exploited the space for Magnus Bradbury to score after a litany of missed tackles.
Better from Ulster soon saw Bowe cross the try-line but fail to ground as the Edinburgh defence held him up; then the resulting five-metre scrum ended in similarly frustrating fashion as the TMO ruled out a Piutau try for a decidedly borderline knock-on as he grounded from Pienaar's clever chip.
Pushing for the bonus point, only dogged maul defence from Browne prevented the fourth Edinburgh try on 61 minutes before a lengthy stoppage for a serious-looking knee injury to Ross Kane.
Promising back Cairns came on for his debut during the pause, and grabbed the headlines moments later as he did well to judge the bounce from fellow replacement Paul Marshall's kick and score a try with his first touch.
Pienaar converted and, with Ulster at last performing somewhere near their potential, another replacement - this time Stockdale - burst through a tiring Edinburgh defence off Herring's pass on 72 minutes for a fine score.
Eleven points adrift still, Ulster probed through Lyttle and Stockdale on the wings but a refocused Edinburgh slowed play down both in open play and dead ball situations to ensure Les Kiss and his men went home entirely empty-handed.
Ulster have two weeks now to regroup before their next Guinness Pro12 encounter, at Kingspan Stadium against Zebre on Friday 25 November.
Full-Time Score Edinburgh 28 Ulster 17
Edinburgh (15 - 9) Blair Kinghorn; Damien Hoyland, Chris Dean, Phil Burleigh, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Sean Kennedy
(1 - 8) Jack Cosgrove, Neil Cochrane (c), Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie, Ben Toolis, Viliame Mata, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury
Replacements (16 - 23) Stuart McInally, Kyle Whyte, Felipe Arregui, Lewis Carmichael, Cornell Du Preez, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Mike Allen
Ulster (15 - 9) Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Sam Windsor, Robert Lyttle; Brett Herron, Ruan Pienaar
(1 - 8) Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (c), Wiehahn Herbst, Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe, Pete Browne, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy
Replacements (16 - 23) John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Robbie Diack, Conor Joyce, Paul Marshall, Aaron Cairns, Jacob Stockdale