Jonah Holmes grabbed four tries as Leicester marked their first appearance in the European Challenge Cup with an emphatic bonus-point win over Pau.
Fly-half Ford was one of five Tigers who returned to club duty after helping England reach the World Cup final.
The international quality told as Ford set up one of two first-half tries for Holmes to add to George Worth's score as Tigers built a telling 24-10 lead.
Winger Holmes doubled his tally as the hosts eased past the French side.
Leicester, making their debut in Europe's second-tier competition following 156 uninterrupted matches in the Champions Cup, were always in control but were not entirely convincing against a powerful Pau pack who stayed in the game until the latter stages.
Pau's Tom Taylor cancelled out an early Ford penalty before a Tigers side featuring Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Dan Cole - with Ellis Genge on the bench - took control with two tries in two minutes.
Worth, on as an early replacement at full-back, touched down following great combination play between the excellent Sione Kalamafoni and Tuilagi, before Holmes raced over after intercepting a poor pass deep in opposition territory.
Pau's physical presence up front told was when scrum-half Thibault Daubagna darted over from close range.
But a fine solo try from Welshman Holmes extended the lead once to 14 points at the interval again following some typically sharp play by Ford in his own half.
A third Holmes score soon after the restart brought a bonus point, the Welshman finishing off a delightful set-piece move for a try which was once again converted by Ford, who kicked a total of 11 points.
Fabrice Metz crossed from close in to reduce the lead 31-20.
But Leicester, who have lost three of their four Premiership fixtures this term, stepped up the tempo and, after a Noel Reid penalty, Holmes sped away following good work by Ben White to touch down for a fourth time.
Leicester Tigers: Viljoen; Aspland-Robinson, Tuilagi, Reid, Holmes; Ford, B Youngs; Gigena, T Youngs (capt), Cole; Lavanini, Spencer, Kalamafoni, Reffell, Boladau.
Replacements: Kerr, Genge, Leatigaga, Wells, Thompson, White, Taute, Worth.
Pau: Pinto; Pourailly, Dumoulin, Nicot, Votu; Taylor, Daubagna (capt); Fisiihoi, Rey, Corato; Pesenti, Delannoy, Habel Kuffner, Gunther, Erbani.
Replacements: Barka, Moise, Adriaanse, Metz, Puech, Lebail, Hastoy, Nueno.