Ulster failed in their attempt to claim a first win on French soil, narrowly going down to Stade Francais 24-19 in a Heineken Cup dead rubber at the Stade Jean-Bouin.
With both teams' chances of qualifying for the tournament's quarter-finals from Pool Four already extinguished, only a second-placed finish in the group and a smidgen of pride was at stake.
But Ulster, victorious against Harlequins last weekend, had been challenged by head coach Matt Williams to make another statement of intent ahead of next season's competition and they dominated the first half, going into the break 8-6 up thanks to Paul Steinmetz's try and Niall O'Connor's penalty.
But Stade woke from their torpor in the second half, Juan Manuel Leguizamon touching down and France fly-half Lionel Beauxis booting his third and fourth penalties to give the Parisian aristocrats the lead.
Clinton Schifcofske landed his second penalty eight minutes from time to draw Ulster to within three points but Mark Gasnier's breakaway try clinched Stade the win, despite Nigel Brady's last-second consolation score. Beauxis finished with a 14-point haul for the afternoon.
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.