While defeat was their lot at the Aviva Stadium, the Munster performance against Leinster demonstrated that most players in the side have the ability to step up.

With Munster nursing a long injury list and unavailable players, Graham Rowntree had to reach deeper into their squad than they have ever before for a tier one game away from home.

You'd often see more senior players like O’Mahony, Beirne, Conway, Earls and Zebo shoring up the spine of the team, but that wasn’t possible on Saturday evening.

When the teams were named, many feared for Munster and hoped that they could limit the damage to a respectable score. However, not long into the second half, a Coombes cousins combo put the visitors ahead and the perception of many changed.

We need your consent to load this comcast-player contentWe use comcast-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Speaking on RTÉ's Against The Head, Donal Lenihan pinpoints 'the shining light' for Munster amid a tough start to the United Rugby Championship season, while Eddie O'Sullivan explains how their upcoming inter-provincial clash against Ulster could prove to be a 'watershed'

Leinster however, as they so often do, found another gear as Munster’s injury woes continued.

What stuck out to me watching on was the belief in the Munster squad.

Initially nurtured under the guidance of academy manager Ian Costello away to Wasps in the Champions Cup last year, this self-belief was severely tested in the lead-up to Saturday's joust.

However, Leinster also had some unavailable players and were light in the back three. The loss of Tadhg Furlong close to kick-off which was a blessing for the Munster scrum.

The message that you get told when going through the ranks of underage, through to academy and development contracts, is that you’re not as far away from senior rugby as you might believe.

This is the party line when coaches are convincing younger players to live the life of a pro as opposed to that of a college student.

When Conor Murray first made his breakthrough, it was in part due to injuries. When the door opened for him, he knocked it clean off the hinges, becoming one of the world’s best scrum-halves.

Conor Murray burst onto the international scene at the 2011 Rugby World Cup

He was the embodiment of that mantra. Yes, he was always going to get there, but it still took an injury or two for him to get the opportunity. The learning here was whether you think the opportunity is close or not, you have to be ready to take your chance.

Guys like Jack Crowley, Tom Ahern, Keynan Knox, Ruadhan Quinn and Patrick Campbell were all quite inexperienced when it came to top level games before Saturday night.

What happened in the Aviva has brought them on to another level. When you look at those starting players especially, Knox, Crowley and Ahern, they not only survived, they put in really positive performances.

Munster now have options to call upon with more confidence should this injury saga continue. These callow players have shown that they can be trusted to drive the standards of performance needed to compete at the higher levels.

It’s one thing to drop someone into a vastly experienced side. This is what coaches and management will always try to do when they use the bones of 50-60 players throughout a season.

At the moment, Munster have no choice but to thrust these young guns into action, even slightly out of position. I’m not saying that they didn't have confidence in them to perform, but given the chance to travel to the Aviva with a more experienced squad, Rowntree wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

I was once one of these players, sprung into action under the guidance of the late Axel Foley in a highly pressurised game at the Aviva.

In action away to Leinster in 2016

I was protected with a lot more senior players around me, but the concept of playing against some of the world’s best players in front of forty-odd thousand people at Lansdowne Road was alien to me.

I remember having a bit of a lightbulb moment during the game at just how good Johnny Sexton was, you couldn’t take your eyes off him; he was pulling the strings even while standing close to his own goal line area.

It also showed me that I wasn’t far away from the standard and that we are all capable of performing at the highest level.

We can all get pumped up for a tier one game, that was obvious to me on the day, much like it was shown to Aherne, Crowley and co. on Saturday night.

Munster fell to a fourth defeat in six outings in this season's URC

The hard part is now to show up again, and again, at the highest level and show that you’re not a once off performer and that you belong at the level.

On that significant day towards the end of my career, I stood up and proved something about myself.

I was more surprised than anyone else that I was able. I was still convincing myself that I should be there, while displaying a falsely confident exterior to settle the nerves of others that had potentially questioned my selection.

It only takes one of these games to ignite confidence in the younger generation which is certainly the case for Rowntree’s younger talents.

Munster have a bit to go if a valiant loss to their biggest rivals is good enough.

I don’t think anyone is saying it is good enough, but under the circumstances of injury and against one of the best drilled machines in club rugby, there were enough positives to take forward to continue healing this wounded province.

Watch Munster v Ulster in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday from 4.45pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and follow a live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app

Watch Ospreys v Connacht in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday from 7.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player