I have finally caught up on my backlog of blog posts I have been meaning to read, and am quite glad I did. One of the posts I ran across was by the Oracle Optimizer team about SQL Patching. This allows you to have Oracle apply a hint to a query without having to modify the query text. This is similar to what you would do with SQL Profiles or SQL Plan Management, however, where those specify the entire execution plan to use, SQL Patching allows you to just apply a hint and still give Oracle the flexibility to adapt to changes. Very cool feature, and doesn’t require any additional tuning packs or anything, just 11g Enterprise Edition.
Read more about this undocumented (but supported) procedure in the following 2 articles: