The Celtic League champions will be looking to step up a level and win the prize they have come so close to winning in previous years.
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But Wales' top performing region know that an opening match against Toulouse could set the tone for the remainder of their European campaign.
"Toulouse are one of the few sides who have proved to be consistently strong over the nine seasons of the Heineken Cup - in fact they are right at the top of the pile," said Llanelli Scarlets coach Nigel Davies.
"It will be a massive game for us and everyone knows how vital it is to win your home matches in this tournament. This is a game we simply have to win.
"I honestly believe Toulouse are the No 1 side in Europe and the side you have to beat if you want to put yourselves up there alongside the best in Europe.
"It is a fantastic fixture for us to start our Heineken Cup campaign and it really focuses the mind on what we have to do before that match."
Although the fixture weekends have been known for some time, ERC, organisers of the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup and Shield competitions, have announced the kick-off times for the first four rounds of the showpiece tournament.
And London Wasps will open their defence of the Heineken Cup with a Sunday showdown against Biarritz Olympique on 24 October at The Causeway Stadium.
Lawrence Dallaglio's star-studded side will also face double Heineken Cup champions Leicester Tigers and Rugby Calvisano in Pool 1 as the cream of European club rugby set off in pursuit of a place in the 10th Heineken Cup final, to be staged at Murrayfield on the weekend of 21 / 22 May, 2005.
"It is not a bad draw for us and it will be good to start at home," said London Wasps Director of Rugby Warren Gatland.
"We are eagerly looking forward to the tournament and defending our title but we know we are in a tough group. I believe that whoever comes out of the Pool with a home quarter-final draw will have set themselves up to go a pretty long way."
Mark McCall, the new Ulster coach who made 12 Heineken Cup appearances in the midfield for the Irish province, will take his tournament bow as a coach against Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill.
"I am delighted we will be at home in front of our Ulster supporters for the opener on the Friday night and I hope we can find some form and get some momentum going in the Celtic League before the Heineken Cup starts," said McCall.
"Your home games in this competition are absolutely crucial but we know that Cardiff Blues are a side on the up. They finished last season strongly and have a number of summer signings that certainly should beef up their pack and make them a very strong all-round side.
'The number one priority for the season will be to make the last eight of the Heineken Cup - something we've failed to do since we won the title back in 1999. The standard has risen every season since then, but we feel we can be very competitive and we're looking forward to starting at home against the Blues.'
Fabien Galthie and Nigel Melville - both former international scrum halves - will be trying to outwit each other when Gloucester make the trip to Paris to meet 2001 finalists Stade Français Paris on the opening Saturday.
"We will be going straight in at the deep end with the game against Gloucester," said new Stade Français Paris coach Galthie. "Gloucester have been at the top of English rugby for a number of seasons."
Melville, Gloucester's Director of Rugby, added: 'Stade Francais are a fantastic side and we've got a lot of respect for Fabien Galthie and his players."
Munster, who have gone within touching distance of the coveted trophy with two appearances in finals - in 2000 and 2002 - kick-off their bid at home to NEC Harlequins on the Saturday evening.
"We have got a great Heineken Cup tradition at Thomond Park and, although Harlequins are sure to be a tough side to crack, hopefully we can keep that tradition going," said Munster coach Alan Gaffney.
"It is great to start at home and hopefully we can give ourselves a lift and get a buzz going for the rest of our Pool games."
No Italian side has reached the knock-out stages of the tournament so far and Giampiero de Carli, the Calvisano captain, accepts they face a tough challenge.
"Leicester Tigers are bound to be even more competitive this season after a slight drop in form," he said. 'There is a lot of work for us to do between now and the first round at Leicester to make ourselves competitive.'
While Italy still wait for their first team to qualify for the last eight, Edinburgh Rugby became the first Scottish side to make the quarter-finals last season and coach Frank Hadden declared: 'Starting off in Perpignan on the Friday night is not going to be easy but I feel we will be highly competitive in the tournament. It's vital for Scottish rugby that we make further progress this season.'