I’ll probably have to file this one under “Optimizer ignoring hints” – except that it should also go under “bugs”, and that’s one of the get-out clauses I use in my “hints are not hints” argument.
Sometimes an invisible index isn’t completely invisible.
Here’s a demonstration from 220.127.116.11 showing something which, to my mind, is a very annoying problem. The objects are in a tablespace that has been created with uniform extents of 1MB on an 8KB block size, using freelist management. I’ve rigged the Hakan factor to ensure that I get exactly 40 rows per block, and I’ve set the system statistics to ensure that a relatively small swing in cost results in a change in execution plan.