Ulster supporters may have been shut out of stadiums for the vast majority of the season so far but the province's star scrum-half John Cooney has still felt their presence keenly on the way to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Dan McFarland's men booked their place in the last four, where they'll take on Leicester at Welford Road, only after overcoming an eight-point deficit at the hands of Northampton Saints on Saturday night, the turning point coming when Cooney scored and converted a crucial try to give his side the lead in the closing stages.
The 30-year-old has been the hero for Dan McFarland's men on plenty of prior big European nights - including against Bath, Harlequins and Clermont all in the space of two memorable months during the 2019/20 season - but this most familiar script carried an extra resonance this time around given his season so far.
The former Leinster and Connacht man's injury-interupted emergence from lockdown has been well-documented, as has the pressure he felt to maintain the sky-high standards upon his return.
A loss of form, his subsequent benching for last year's PRO14 final and the lack of further Ireland involvement have all been bitter pills to swallow for a player who had been drawing praise from all corners of the rugby world prior to the sport's most sudden of stoppages.
While such attention is often transitory, unwavering through the testing period, Cooney feels, was the support of the Kingspan faithful.
And now, having emerged out the other side, there's nothing he'd like more than to reward those same fans by helping to deliver the side's first piece of silverware since the 2006 Celtic League title.
"I'd be lying if I said those couple of months weren't the toughest that I've had in rugby for years," he admitted.
"It's probably only recently that I've really come out the other side of it. I was even thinking there just during the week that I felt really good and maybe that's something to do with the performance (against Northampton).
"There were a couple of incidents around that time where people reached out and it just meant a lot.
"For people to reach out and ask if I'm okay, that means a lot to me. I'm getting a bit emotional here but that matters to me as a person and it means a lot to me to play for Ulster.
"I've always played as that type of person that wears his heart on his sleeve, that probably gets in the way of my personal health at times, but it matters and small things like that can make a big difference.
"I got about 25 or 30 messages (straight away) saying how great it was to see us in a semi-final and that's always the Ulster way.
"Through tough times, I've found that they always reach out to me. I know it's a bit clichéd and everyone says it but I do think we have the best fans.
"It does feel like we have them there behind us. It matters to us. You know they're there at every game, that's their Friday nights, their Saturday nights and don't think that we forget that even at these times.
"I know life is a little bit awkward and a little bit weird at the moment, but we know it matters to them that we win these games.
"Something like that, to bring a trophy home to them, it matters. It means a lot."
Without Cooney's score, and Jacob Stockdale's that followed, this morning could have been spent not looking ahead to the prospect of silverware, but in something of a post-mortem.
After losing both their Champions Cup pool games earlier in the year, as well as two league clashes to Leinster, the first-half in Franklin's Gardens looked to be more of the same when it mattered most.
Despite the hosts seeing three players sent to the sin bin, they were 20-12 to the good at the turn with Ulster looking decidedly laboured even against 13-men. Cooney himself was not immune to the malaise, ending the first-half by steering a penalty wide of the posts when given the chance to make it a one-score game.
The likes of Teimana Harrison had previously been emblematic of Saints' superiority but after the turn Ulster were belatedly playing the game on their own terms.
Marty Moore's score followed not long after the restart, setting the table for Cooney and company's later heroics.
"I felt like it was a similar one to Bath (away) last year," Cooney reflected. "I went in at half-time missing a kick that I should have got.
"I went into half-time in that same head-space, thinking that it was about how I was going to respond. I was disappointed in that first-half I was a little flat. I knew I could give it more effort in the second-half.
"I think I've learnt enough over the years that it can be something simple. I had a caffeine gum, I spat it out, and I said 'right, that's the change.'
"The psychology of it, you can flick a switch and start anew, that's how I dealt with it. I told myself to get the first box-kick right, I did that, and we went down and executed our plan.
"That was all of our mentality. We knew that we were disappointing in that first-half but we knew that we could turn it around with how we reacted.
"To come out in the second-half in the way that we did, it's a test of our character, that fight for every inch of mentality."
Coming to the sharp end of a competition once again, only two tests remain for Cooney to deliver the silverware he so dearly desires for his supporters.