Although it was not a perfect performance from the RaboDirect PRO12 leaders, the bonus point victory - and strong work from several new faces - bodes well for the winter months.
The early signs were positive as number 8 Wilson, making his first appearance at Ravenhill in over four years, put in a thunderous tackle on his own 22.
Debutant full-back Ricky Andrew made a couple of nerve-settling darts with ball in hand, and Payne illustrated that he had effortlessly made the transition from full-back to centre with a strong run through the Edinburgh midfield.
However, it was Edinburgh who made the first serious break for the line in the 10th minute, and they capitalised on a sloppy Ulster fumble to pilfer possession and supply Tom Brown who finished his try in the left corner. Gregor Hunter converted to make it a seven-pointer.
Pienaar, who started at out-half with Paul Marshall alongside him, appeared to succumb to a knock picked up in the lead-up to the Edinburgh try. The South African was forced to make an early exit which was, thankfully, to prove only temporary.
His replacement Niall O'Connor was only on the pitch for a matter of seconds before being called upon to land a central 22-metre penalty, but his effort was cancelled out in the 20th minute by a similar Hunter kick.
With Pienaar's injury patched up, the Springbok returned at the beginning of the second quarter, in time to see a sublime steal by Wilson at an Edinburgh lineout set Ulster's gears back in motion.
Ulster broke with pace and young winger Chris Cochrane was unlucky not to be awarded a try in the left corner in the first instance.
Strong Ulster scrummaging at the subsequent set piece then forced the Scots to buckle behind their own line, and referee Nigel Owens had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try. Pienaar converted to bring Ulster level at 10-10.
With Ulster now playing with plenty of panache, the influential Wilson and Pienaar set Gilroy galloping along the right touchline.
The winger's pace and trickery carried him past several Edinburgh defenders, stepping in and out before unleashing a perfectly-timed overhead pass for the onrushing Payne to outstrip the defence and score a fine converted try.
Just four minutes later, Pienaar blocked an attempted clearance from Hunter, collected the loose ball and coolly sprinted in for his second charge down try in as many weeks. His conversion made it 24-10.
Mark Anscombe's men proved unable to preserve the scale of their lead for long though, with Brown grabbing his second try - converted by Hunter - just before the break.
Hunter drew first blood in the second period with a 42nd minute penalty and with Stephen Ferris feeling the effects of two high impact tackles, he was soon replaced by Nick Williams.
It was confirmed afterwards that Ferris injured his right ankle, making him an immediate doubt for Ireland's GUINNESS Series opener next week against South Africa.
With Ulster's lead shorn to four points and now bereft of the talismanic Ferris, the signs suddenly looked ominous for the table toppers.
However, Edinburgh failed score again in this lively encounter. It was the impressive aerial prowess of Neil McComb, whose considerable stature allowed him to be first to a misjudged up-and-under from Edinburgh's Greig Tonks, which put Ulster back in the driving seat.
Although a knock on blighted their progress in the first instance, some quick-witted play and distribution from a flailing Edinburgh scrum gave Payne the chance to supply Wilson on the wing and the former Northampton back rower sealed the bonus point by scoring out wide.
Pienaar's conversion was followed by Payne's second try of the evening came after 66 minutes. Pienaar and the resuming O'Connor provided the assists for the Kiwi, who slid in by the posts after another solid scrum from the province's pack.
Pienaar supplied the extras to put Ulster out of sight. They would have been even further ahead four minutes later had Mike McComish's try not been disallowed for an earlier infringement in a tackle by ball carrier Gilroy.
Undeterred by this minor setback, Ireland squad member Gilroy capped a fine Ulster attacking display in the final minute, winning the race to reach Pienaar's probing kick as it dropped over the try-line.
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Edinburgh Rugby Score Card|