Now they are out to try and emulate Biarritz Olympique's feat of 12 months ago when they collected their Heineken Cup ticket as the Amlin champions.
Stade's prepartion for the big match included spending time at an amusement park but now it is deadly serious business.
And Paul Warwick - a 2008 Heineken Cup winner with Munster who has scored 217 points in 52 European appearances for Connacht Rugby, Munster and now Stade Francais Paris - accepts they face a mountain to climb against the triple Heineken Cup champions chasing a fourth European title in just five seasons.
"Leinster have the bones of that team together for quite some time and they know each other inside out," Warwick told the Irish Times.
"There is a higher turnover of players in French clubs and we are no different to that. Throughout we have probably been a team of stars rather than a star team but things have slowly been changing for us.
"You just don't know what you are going to get on the night unfortunately. That's one of the drawbacks.
"The rugby is probably less structured, less organised but . . . it's just different and you can't say one way is better than the other."