The first weekend of European action featured rather more than Treviso's heroically improbable crew of Italian giant-killers, a mighty declaration of intent from London Irish and two colossal matches in the English Midlands, writes ercrugby.com columnist Peter Jackson.
It also brought ample evidence of the Heineken Cup's rejuvenating effect on the senior members of its global cast. What other possible explanation can there be for the fact that the old soldiers are out in greater numbers than before?
The magnetic appeal of the best club tournament in the world keeps them marching to the end of a longer road in defiance of Anno Domini. The Age Concern people would be well advised to give the Heineken and its sister competition, the Amlin Challenge Cup, the widest of berths.
Filo Tiatia, the Ospreys' All Black back row forward, heads the list of grandees at 38 even if his truncated role as a temporary sub at Leicester forced him to sit and watch the Welsh region give an object lesson in how to squander an 18-point lead. The dreadlocked player-coach may have been reduced to a supporting role by the advent of Jerry Collins but other senior citizens are still automatic choices.
None fit more readily into that category than Danny Grewcock, whose value to Bath continues to defy depreciation despite turning 37 when England kick off the flood of autumn Tests against Australia at Twickenham on November 7. For other Heineken contenders there is still no substitute for experience.
Cardiff Blues, for example, cannot reinstate Maama Molitika and Martyn Williams quickly enough if they are to have any realistic prospect of emulating last season's charge to the semi-finals. The back row pair, 35 and 34 respectively, are recovering from injuries, hence their absence against Harlequins last week.
Theirs is not the only reunion being awaited with some urgency. Munster and John Hayes, the perennial inseparables, will have to wait until the pre-Christmas rounds to be together again although a one-week reduction in the Bruff farmer's six-week ban for his red-card against Leinster means he will be free to resume normal service for Ireland within days of reaching 36.
Another international front row forward, Gloucester's French hooker Olivier Azam, will have to wait a little longer before completing a 12-week ban for kicking England captain Steve Borthwick during a Premiership match.
A whole host of Hayes' contemporaries who have also been alive and kicking since the early Seventies are also ready to bust a gut in European action, veterans like Leicester Tigers' Welsh-speaking hooker Mefin Davies (37), Ulster prop Justin Fitzpatrick (36 in November) and Leinster's evergreen lock, Malcolm O'Kelly.
The Amlin Challenge Cup can also boast some serious big-hitters of their own who are still standing the test of time, like Simon Shaw, 36 in September, 35 year old Olivier Diomande of Racing Metro and Castres' All Black prop Carl Hoeft (35).
Nor are the old brigade restricted to the pack - not with Leeds Tykes' ageless Welsh fly-half Jason Strange still kicking goals at 36. Then you have Northampton Saints' Bruce Reihana still a force to be reckoned with on the wing at 33 and his compatriot Byron Kelleher central to Toulouse's campaign for an unprecedented fourth title at the same age.
So how about these two teams of ageless wonders taking the field to prove that rugby, even at the top end of the scale in Europe, is not just a young man's game.
(all ages including November birthdays)
15: Clinton Schifcofske (Ulster - 34)
14: Emiliano Mulieri (Benetton Treviso & Argentina - 36)
13: Christophe Manas (Perpignan - 34)
12: Gareth Thomas (Cardiff Blues & Wales - 35)
11: Oriol Ripol (Sale Sharks & Spain - 34)
10: Marius Goosen (Benetton Treviso - 35)
9: Byron Kelleher (Toulouse & New Zealand - 33)
1: Duncan Bell (Bath & England - 35)
2: Mario Ledesma (ASM Clement Auvergne & Argentina - 37)
3: Julian White (Leicester Tigers & England - 36)
4: Danny Grewcock (Bath & England - 37)
5: Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (Northampton Saints & Argentina - 35)
6: Alan Quinlan (Munster & Ireland - 35)
7: David Wallace (Munster & Ireland - 33)
8: Filo Tiatia (Ospreys & New Zealand - 38)
Amlin Challenge Cup
15: Chris Latham (Worcester Warriors & Australia - 34)
14: David Janin (Bourgoin & France - 32)
13: Henry Paul (Leeds Carnegie & England - 35)
12: Jean-Philippe Viard (Montauban - 32)
11: Roberto Pedrazzi (Rovigo & Italy - 33)
10: Andrew Mehrtens (Racing Metro & New Zealand - 36)
9: Justin Marshall (Saracens & New Zealand - 36)
1: Denis Avril (Bayonne & France - 37)
2: Sebastien Bruno (Toulon & France - 35)
3: Giovanni Bocchino (Rovigo - 37)
4: Simon Raiwalui (Racing Metro & Fiji - 35)
5:Simon Shaw (London Wasps & England) 36
6: Serge Betsen (London Wasps & France - 35)
7: Nicolas Galatro (Petrarca - 35)
8: Kris Chesney (Toulon - 35)
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.