Ulster coach Mark Anscombe hailed his side’s 25-6 drubbing of Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens as a statement of their Heineken Cup intent.
Ulster extended the only unbeaten record left in top-flight European rugby with a bonus-point victory courtesy of tries from Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne and Dan Tuohy.
Ulster, who were runners-up in this competition last year, have now won 13 consecutive matches this campaign.
They have 14 points from a possible 15 in Pool Four and look every inch leading Heineken Cup contenders again.
“That was a bit of a statement,” said Anscombe. “We weren’t even thinking about the bonus point. We were more than happy to come here and take the win.”
Ulster fear their captain and second row Johan Muller may have broken an broken.
The Saints have now suffered back-to-back European defeats and they must win at Ravenhill next week to stand any chance of keeping their Heineken Cup ambitions alive.
“That was not good enough from us,” said Dylan Hartley, the Northampton captain. “We speak about intensity, they brought bags of it and we didn’t bring enough.
“You can’t just turn up and expect it to happen and I think that happened. We got shown up by a good team.”
Ulster are six points clear in Pool Four with Castres in second place after securing their first ever away win in the Heineken Cup, with a 9-6 triumph over Glasgow.
Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend said: “We can produce better rugby than that - we have done already this season. How we react to mistakes defines us as individuals and as a group.”
Connacht pulled off a shock 22-14 victory over Biarritz in Galway, with former Scotland international Dan Parks kicking 17 points and Tongan wing Fetu’u Vainikolo scoring a first-half try.
It was only Connacht’s third ever Heineken Cup victory, adding to previous successes against Harlequins and Zebre.
Coach Eric Elwood said: “It is a huge scalp for us. A lot of credit must go our young guys, particularly in the forward pack. The platform from our forward pack was terrific.
“To get scrum penalties against Biarritz was magnificent and Dan kept the scoreboard ticking over, so all in all it was great.”