In May of 2013, Dublin welcomed Clermont Auvergne and Toulon to battle it out for the final Heineken Cup before a competition restructure and rename.

With two wins in the previous Challenge Cup campaigns, Mourad Boudjellal’s star-studded side sought to make a mark on the premier European cup competition, with the aristocrats from Clermont standing in their way.

In a final that won’t live long in the memory, Jonny Wilkinson kicked 11 of their 16 points as they edged past their Top 14 rivals by the bare minimum.

Their record and performances that followed as they reeled off three successive titles somewhat mirrored that day in Dublin; highly attritional rugby (little wonder with the likes of Mathieu Bastareaud, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Carl Hayamn and Andrew Sheridan – the replacements included Gethin Jenkins, Joe van Niekerk, and Steffon Armitage), a power based game that simply wore opponents down. The frills were a bonus rather than the prerequisite of their beaten opponents. 

It’s not like they were utterly dominant in that time period; in those three seasons they never managed a clean sweep in the pool stages and advanced to the quarter-finals without ever claiming top seeding, but there was something relentless in their pursuit of silverware.

A developing Saracens side were strangled slowly in the 2014 decider, while 12 months later Clermont yet again ended the campaign as bridesmaids.

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny assumed the kicking duties from the retired Wilkinson, a further nod to the territorial, power game deployed by the side.

That Twickenham success was the last piece of silverware added to the trophy cabinet and while three years hardly constitutes a drought, it seems a dis-proportionally long time with a roster jam-packed of internationals.

Curiously, they have only one Top 14 title (2014) since promotion to the top-flight a decade ago, though they are usually in and around the mix at the business end of the season. In the subsequent three seasons, they have been beaten semi-finalists and finalists’ (twice).

In Europe, Clermont finally exacted some degree of revenge in 2015 to end Toulon's quest for four-in-a-row, while Racing 92 and Clermont again have ended their interest at the quarter-final stage for the past two seasons.

So what is the standing of the current crop of galacticos?

A serious outfit who lack the aura and ruthlessness of previous sides seems to be the general consensus. In the Top 14, they have lost 10 games in each of the last three regular seasons; they have reached that tally already this term with four games remaining.

Much of the build-up has centered on their 49-point demolition of Clermont, but their previous outing, on St Patrick’s Day, was a narrow defeat to bottom side Oyonnax.

Their passage to the last eight of the Champions Cup was far from routine, with their away form in particular very patchy. Fabien Galthie’s side had just a point to spare over Treviso, while they did pick up losing bonus points in defeats to Bath and Scarlets.

The scoring threat posed by Toulon will be a very real one for Johann van Graan and his Munster coaching team.

The pack doesn’t contain the calibre of grizzly characters it once possessed, but the backline lurks with intent. Bastareaud remains in situ, and showed for France during the Six Nations that he is returning to the form and fitness that made him such a feared player with and without the ball.

The options in midfield are pretty envious, especially when you consider Munster are without Jaco Taute, Chris Farrell and the versatile Keith Earls.

Malakai Fekitoa scored two tries in a sublime performance at outside centre against Clermont, a good foil for the more abrasive Bastareuad. Perhaps best known to Irish fans for his high tackle on Simon Zebo in Ireland's defeat to the All Blacks two years ago that could easily have resulted in a red rather than yellow card, the 24-year-old could have a significant role to play on Saturday afternoon.

Bear in mind too that Toulon had the luxury of resting Ma’a Nonu.

Pantomime villain Chris Ashton equalled the Top 14 try scoring record with 21 tries and counting and only league leaders Montpellier have crossed the whitewash more often.

Directing the backline is likely to be 21-year-old Anthony Belleau. A late penalty miss against Ireland proved costly for France in the Six Nations opener, but possess a good all-round kicking game and an ability to attack the line. For all his promise, the callow out-half will be starting just his fourth Champions Cup game.

Munster have won 70 of their previous 75 games at the Limerick venue, and with 77% of Champions Cup quarter-finals to date going the way of the home side, will be backing themselves to continue their pre-Six Nations momentum

The two-time European champions topped the pool with a swagger, but fast forward a couple of months and a crippling injury list has diminished their perceived advantage somewhat.

Van Graan has spoken of the "special" atmosphere in a home European tie and will be looking to condemn the visitors to their fourth consecutive last-eight exit.

A huge occasion awaits.