London Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson insists his side are back where they belong after a year-long absence from Europe's premier domestic competition.
Having been nothing more than interested spectators this time last year, Hodgson and his team-mates will suddenly be the centre of attention this evening when they take on reigning European Champions Leinster at the Royal Dublin Showground.
The Exiles reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup in 2008 but failed to qualify for last season's tournament and were instead left to play their European rugby in the Challenge Cup.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Irish, and Hodgson and co are understandably delighted that they are just hours away from a return to the big time.
"The Heineken Cup is where we feel this club belongs," said Hodgson, who is being touted as England's starting scrum-half for next month's autumn internationals.
"We had such a great time last time we were in it, making it to the semi-final against Toulouse at Twickenham. It was gutting for us last year not to be in the tournament.
"We're back where we belong and we're very excited."
Being back among the elite isn't enough on its own, however, with Hodgson convinced consistency is the key to a successful European and domestic challenge. The 27-year-old former Bristol No9 saw his team struggle in the league when shining in Europe two seasons ago before excelling at home but falling short in the European Challenge Cup a year later.
But Hodgson believes things can be different this time around. A growing confidence and a far more competitive squad convince the man widely seen as the club's heartbeat that Irish can compete on two fronts.
"It was tough missing out on qualification last year but we had no one else to blame but ourselves," admitted Hodgson.
"That year when we did well in the Heineken Cup, it maybe took a little bit of attention away from the Premiership. Last year we had no Heineken Cup distraction but even then we didn't do as well as we'd have liked in the Challenge Cup, perhaps because of our run in the Premiership where we finished as losing finalists.
"The way rugby's gone, the game definitely calls for rotation systems. How that happens is down to the coaches. But we feel that we could put out two starting XVs and be competitive against most teams in Europe.
"That confidence that we now have among our squad is not only pushing the players to up their performances individually but it also bodes well for the club itself. I feel now for the first time that we have a squad that can compete in both competitions plus the EDF, with the Heineken Cup being the pinnacle.
And if competing in the Heineken Cup is the ultimate achievement, then facing the continent's best team in your opening game surely has to be the perfect start.
"We couldn't ask for a better beginning. If you're in the Heineken Cup, you want to play against the best teams.
"The old Irish connection will keep the fans happy and we as players love going over to Ireland as well. We know how difficult they'll be to play against but, in the past, we've done alright against them.
"They'll be the favourites, obviously, but we'll be okay with that. We're happy to be in that tournament against those sorts of teams and we'll give it our all."
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.