Unfamiliar competition, very familiar opponents.
Ulster's first foray into European rugby's second-tier tournament will bring about a fifth meeting with Harlequins in the past four seasons after the draw for the last-16 of the Challenge Cup was made in Switzerland yesterday.
The game, which will take place over the first weekend of April, sees two sides who started this season in the Champions Cup going head-to-head after the Covid-19 pandemic forced two changes to the established format in quick succession.
First, with one fewer weekend to work with, the pool stage was cut from six games to four and the trapdoor down to the Challenge Cup from the top table was re-introduced.
Then, amid vociferous concern from French clubs over differing testing and travel protocols, the pool stage was abruptly abandoned after two rounds with what was planned to be a two-legged quarter-finals expanded to become a last-16 and last-eight over the same weekends.
Even in the expanded field, Ulster found themselves on the outside looking in, their sacrificing of a 10-point lead late on to Gloucester at Kingsholm proving more costly than it seemed even at the time in the weeks before Christmas.
And it will be that result that acts as a cautionary tale over what, in the face of two straight dead-rubbers to come in the PRO14, will be three weeks of build-up to the knockout rugby lacking from their domestic campaign.
While the northern province were admittedly without Marcell Coetzee, Robert Baloucoune and three of the four front-line locks even before they managed to pick up three yellow cards over the course of the 80 minutes, at the base level, that Sunday in December represented a failure to beat the team rooted to the foot of the Premiership at present and for much of the season.
Harlequins, in contrast, have been flying high.
Their bonus-point win over Northampton Saints, with the fourth try scored by former Ulster player Brett Herron, took them to third in the table, behind only Bristol and Exeter.
Superbly led by 22-year-old star fly-half Marcus Smith, who, despite being overlooked by England coach Eddie Jones for the Six Nations, has been one of the players of the season through the league campaign, they have won five of their last six. Exeter, Racing 92 and Bristol, last season's Champions Cup finalists and the current Premiership leaders, are the only visiting sides to win at The Twickenham Stoop this season.
For sure, this is not the same team that Ulster took nine points from a possible 10 off across the two games only 16 months ago and certainly not the one that shipped 52 points on a visit to Belfast back in 2017.
Coming into this competition off the back of consecutive seasons in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup and, at very worst, one of the three best teams in the PRO14, much will be expected of Dan McFarland's men but this will be a tough test.
While this is likely the most difficult assignment they could have been handed, it is one that should be relished.
With no disrespect to the test of Connacht in Galway, this is a side who are perhaps lacking something to qualify as a signature win this season.
While beating Edinburgh in a Murrayfield semi-final was still less than six months ago, in the 2020-21 season there is no getting away from the reality that they have lost their four biggest games.
Some will have sneered at the significance of this competition given its second billing to the Champions Cup's headline act, but, with a likely quarter-final to come against Northampton Saints in Franklin's Gardens, should Ulster negotiate their way past Harlequins, they now know that just to make the last-four will take their best two results of the campaign.
With last week's loss to Leinster ensuring the PRO14 is again beyond their reach, the 15th anniversary of the organisation's last piece of silverware is fast approaching. A generation of players have come and gone since that 2006 Celtic League triumph sealed by David Humphreys' nerve-shredding drop-goal.
If they do finally get that monkey off their backs in this competition two months from now - if it is McFarland's men celebrating in Marseille come the end of May - they will have had to do it the hard way.
And that should make the prospect all the more appealing.