WHAT we witnessed in Limerick wasn't the death of a European super-power or indeed a rugby province in decline. However, what we did see was a Munster team in transition, one which will -- of necessity -- change even more when a new head coach is appointed in the coming weeks.
What Munster is experiencing at the moment, while painful, is part of the cycle and natural course of events over time.
Whatever the code, great teams have great times before they falter and have to re-invent themselves. That is the challenge for Munster now.
They have, in my view, already got the right man in Anthony Foley in the right position with responsibility for the forwards. Foley may well get the nod to become the chief but, for me, it would be a major move too early for province and coach alike.
Whoever eventually succeeds Tony McGahan, there are problems to be addressed.
Up front, there is some serious material with which to work. Munster will never want for the right stuff from numbers one to eight and, in the likes of Mike Sherry, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell and James Coughlan, a new generation is already in place.
Behind the scrum, however, there are very real issues to address, extending from half-back out.
I admire Ronan O'Gara's self-belief in his assertion that he would continue to play until he is 38 but what does that say about underage/academy back-up in the province? O'Gara is still clearly the main man to nurse the emerging generation through, but he also needs to be pushed.
In Conor Murray and O'Gara, Munster have the pairing in place for next season at least, but beyond that -- aside from Keith Earls and Simon Zebo -- alarm bells should be ringing.
Right now, Munster lack pace, balance, creativity and savvy in attack. When Munster rugby was at its best, it operated on the twin-prong bludgeon-and-rapier principle in midfield whereby a Rob Henderson or Trevor Halstead combined with a Mikey Mullins or a Rua Tipoki to most prudent attacking effect.
Right now, Lifeimi Mafi alongside Earls is much too light-weight and far too easily read.
There are times in the white heat of battle when bashing down the door is every bit as prudent as picking at the lock. To that end, the pending arrival of James Downey from Franklin's Gardens can't happen quickly enough, with Earls, wearing 13, set to be the instant beneficiary.
Of the current back-three, Zebo is by far the most assured. Denis Hurley and Felix Jones ooze honesty but one lacks the pace essential at this level (although I would argue that Hurley could perform the Jamie Roberts-type carrier role were he developed as such at inside-centre), while the other is consistently wasting energy needlessly in certain areas of the field.
Jones has the potential to be a very effective full-back at this level but right now he needs someone like Shaun Payne to take him aside and point out the futility of getting involved at the breakdown.
The full-back was, and still is, the most potent attacking weapon in rugby if sensibly deployed. A fit-again Dougie Howlett on the right, with Zebo on the left and a more tactically astute Jones at full-back, certainly excites, but it necessitates the full-back re-assessing his tactical priorities.
As for Ulster, it was a magical performance and a statement of intent. As we witnessed at Lansdowne Road back in 1999, the potential support for the province is massive and at least on a par with the big two. It is great news for Ulster and great news for Irish rugby.
Craig Gilroy did his future prospects at the highest level no harm with Sunday's brilliant try but it didn't need that. Both he and replacement scrum-half Paul Marshall are already international-class players in the making.
At Lansdowne, where Leinster were at times mesmeric, Rob Kearney and Jonny Sexton were at the heart of it. Some will point to inadequacies in the Cardiff defence but if you want self-belief and precision in clinical execution then what we witnessed last Saturday was a Joe Schmidt masterclass.
Here I echo the sentiments expressed by colleague Hugh Farrelly in these pages yesterday that the New Zealander be enlisted to return to his homeland this summer, alongside Les Kiss, charged with responsibility for the Ireland backs.
Kiss and Schmidt would make for the dream team in combining defence with attack and I know it would have the most positive impact on each and every player chosen to travel.
It would also introduce Schmidt to the Test think-tank and I cannot think of anyone better qualified than the former Clermont Auvergne backline wizard to take on that task in the interim and -- depending how it goes -- perhaps on a longer-term arrangement.
Of all the overseas coaching expertise to come our way, it is the Schmidt modus operandi that has impressed me the most.
While we have him in our midst, we should maximise that presence to the full.