What differentiates the Ubuntu Kernel from the upstream Linux Kernel?
Ubuntu kernels are rebased against stable releases only through the development cycle, with many patches on top of the stable tag. Once the final release is made the master branch is never rebased again. While stable updates (post release) are usually applied, we sometimes make patch decisions that are counter to the stable releases.
So, the best one could say is that Ubuntu kernels are only loosely based on upstream stable. You'd have to examine the changelog to know exactly what goes into a particular kernel.
With every Ubuntu kernel release, we attempt to remain as true to the upstream Linux kernel as possible. However, there are inevitable patches which we carry on top of the upstream Linux kernel which differentiates the Ubuntu kernel from the upstream Linux kernel. This document attempts to describe the general set of patches which are carried and why: Kernel/FAQ/UbuntuDelta