The improvement in Ulster’s away form in Europe last season under Dan McFarland is something the head coach wants to see maintained and, if possible, bettered as they head into the unknown.
McFarland is not yet sure what Bath, their opponents at the Rec on Saturday, and Harlequins will bring to a pool which also includes feared Top14 leaders Clermont.
Winning five out of six pool games last season as they qualified for the quarter- finals was a significant step forward and he hopes the team will draw inspiration from last season’s big wins at the Scarlets, and at Welford Road against Leicester Tigers.
“It’s something the players talked about when I came in, they talked about consistency being away from home. We talk about the mentality of being away from home.
“The win at Scarlets games is a memorable moment for me. The way we built up that week and player-led, they talked about taking away our own atmosphere to grounds.
“You’ve got to take a little bit of Ulster with you and we know what that looks like out here (Kingspan) and so really we should have that at the forefront of our mind of what it looks like when we’re not playing here.”
Taking a little bit of home with them is something McFarland says his players have done “a pretty good job of on a number of occasions”.
“You have got to show a little bit of bite and fight away from home — and that’s got to start up front.
“I’d be pleased with the way that’s going but this will be a big test this week and we’ll find out a bit more about that.”
Ulster won four of their opening six PRO14 games prior to the start of another European campaign, which is condensed this year due to the Rugby World Cup.
Iain Henderson is tipped to make his first appearance of the season for Ulster since playing for Ireland in Japan, potentially partnering Australian Sam Carter in the second row.
Ulster’s injury problems are all clearing up with Will Addison, Louis Ludik, Marcell Coetzee, and Billy Burns all expected to play.
Last week’s 22-16 loss at Thomond Park was one of those occasions when the performance was better than the result, and an opportunity to ramp up the intensity ahead of a difficult opening Cup game in Bath, who are littered with world-class talents.
“They have big forwards and electric backs,” added McFarland.
“They’ve got some superstar players like Jamie Roberts and Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph and obviously their back three is one of the strongest back around in terms of running talent, so that’s a real threat.
“They’ve got threats all over the field, guys in the back-row like Sam Underhill and Faletau and Francois Loue and Zac Mercer is a classy player. Mike Williams was at Leicester last year and they have a big front five.
“They demolished the Northampton scrum last week, and they (Saints) were top of the league at that stage.
“Bath took them to the cleaners there so that’s a huge threat for us and a really good challenge.”
Meanwhile, wing Rob Lyttle has signed a three-year contract keeping him at Ulster until 2023. The speedy 22-year-old has started four games so far this season and scored 11 tries in 27 appearances.