The Stormers, significantly depleted in terms of first-choice personnel, endured an incredibly difficult night in Belfast on Friday as they were well beaten 35-5 by Ulster.
FT | Ulster 35-5 Stormers
It was always going to be a tough outing for the defending champions, but few would have anticipated the contest being this one-sided.
It didn't help that the already diluted Stormers were dealt a whack of first-half injuries with Springbok No 8 Evan Roos, hooker JJ Kotze and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis all leaving the field injured.
That severely disrupted the Stormers, and it left them struggling for continuity and dominance all over the park.
Ulster, meanwhile, were physical and clinical, doing the basics right as Bok legend Duane Vermeulen led their battles in contact and on the ground.
By half-time, the Stormers were 21-0 down after shipping three tries, and there were no indications that they would be able to launch a comeback in the second period.
Coach John Dobson had warned in the week that fans shouldn't expect the fearless, fast-paced, enterprising counter-attack that Stormers followers have become accustomed to from their dazzling performances in Cape Town, and that much proved to be true.
Kade Wolhuter was the flyhalf cover for the injured Du Plessis - he had started at fullback as a late change for Clayton Blommetjies in another blow to the Stormers - but there was not the incisive intent that Manie Libbok brings to this attack.
Instead, it was all a bit clumsy, and any vague hopes the Stormers had of turning things around after the break were dented when lock Ben Jason Dixon was yellow carded for a high hit on 42 minutes.
By the time they were done, Ulster had run in five tries and the Stormers had been knocked out long before the mercy of the final whistle eventually came.
There was a moment of consolation just before full time when Marcel Theunissen went over for a try, ensuring the Stormers avoided drawing a dreaded blank.
This was one to forget for Dobson and his champions, though, who failed dismally when they were stretched to their limits in terms of depth and resourcefulness.
Ulster 35 (21)
Tries: Nathan Doak, Ben Moxham, Nick Timoney, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Michael Lowry
Conversions: Doak (4), John Cooney
Stormers 5 (0)
Try: Marcel Theunissen