Montpellier opened their European Challenge Cup account with a 33-15 victory as they beat an under-strength Bristol at Stade Yves du Manoir on Friday.
Unlike other French sides who have opted to blood second-string talent for the European competition, the Montpol coaching team named a host of internationals in their starting line-up while Richard Hill utilised his squad following a poor domestic season's start.
Yet it was the visitors who started the match by far the healthier as on minute one an opportunist break from Tom Arscott saw full-back Vunga Lilo enter the attack at pace before handing out for Lee Robinson to cross in the corner.
However, that almost immediate lead was cut to two points when imperious goal-kicker Fédérico Todeschini sent over a penalty before a clinical series of attacks looked to stir the hosts into life.
But against the run of play, Bristol hit back with a free-flowing move that started from their own 22.
This time veteran centre Kevin Maggs broke out before passing to partner Greg Barden, who made the right call by offloading without forcing the play, allowing 21-year-old Iain Greave to crash over - the scores now 3-12 in a remarkable opening.
Finally, on thirteen minutes the sparse home crowd had something to cheer and bang their drums about as a smart backs move came right for France hopeful Francois Trinh-Duc to slide in and cut the gap - Todeschini's sublime conversion adding the extras.
And that was the perfect tonic for Montpellier as their powerful loose forward Mamuka Gorgodze continued his strong showing by barging off Barden 20 metres from the whitewash.
The Georgian then drew the final defender before slipping a ball to scoring wing Thierry Brana, which moved Montpellier ahead at 17-15 on 23 minutes before a lean spell saw a Todeschini penalty the only other action before half-time.
The Argentine kept the scoreboard ticking over on 50 minutes with another sweetly-struck penalty goal as all of Bristol's early fire seemed to have been extinguished.
Hill's side found themselves even further behind four minutes later with another Puma place kick hurting what now seemed a losing bonus-point cause as sustained home territory began to tell.
And with Justin Marshall organising the power of replacement Philémon Toleafoa and, of course, Gorgodze around the fringes, their third try surely wasn't too far in coming.
So it proved as substitute hooker Mickael Ladhuie touched down for an opportunist score with six minutes remaining to liven up what was a fragmented second period.
However, the bonus-point win did not come for the Top 14 outfit as Bristol were left counting the loss of finisher Arscott due to a neck injury, which adds to their worrying run of thirteen games without a win.
Tries: Trinh-Duc, Brana, Ladhuie
Con: Todeschini 3
Pen: Todeschini 4
Tries: Robinson, Grieve
Montpellier: 15 Francois Trinh-Duc, 14 Jean-Matthieu Alcalde, 13 Ollie Smith, 12 Sylvain Mirande, 11 Thierry Brana, 10 Fédérico Todeschini, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Mamuka Gorgodze, 7 Jérome Vallée, 6 Warren Britz, 5 Drickus Hancke, 4 Michel Macurdy, 3 Clément Baïocco, 2 Fabien Rofes, 1 Sébastien Petit.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ladhuie, 17 Pieter Van Niekerk, 18 Philémon Toleafoa, 19 Benjamin Goze, 20 Vassili Bost, 21 Adrien Tomas, 22 Olivier Sarraméa.
Bristol: 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Greg Barden, 12 Kevin Maggs, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Iain Grieve, 7 Redford Pennycook, 6 Matt Salter, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Mariano Sambucetti, 3 Peter Bracken, 2 David Blaney, 1 Mark Irish.
Replacements: 16 Mark Regan, 17 Alex Clarke, 18 Dave Attwood, 19 James Phillips, 20 Graeme Beveridge, 21 Chris Ashwin, 22 Neil Brew.
Referee: Andy McPherson (Scotland)
Touch judges: David Changleng (Scotland), Alan Forrest (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Heard (Scotland)