With the incentive of an extended run in European competition, and the possibility of winning a coveted European title, there is bound to be an added edge to the final 24 Heineken Cup Pool fixtures.
Last season's innovation which led to three Heineken Cup teams doing battle with the pick of the Amlin Challenge Cup sides was a resounding success with the record-breaking final in Marseille ultimately won by a Heineken Cup starter - Cardiff Blues - against an Amlin Challenge Cup starter, Toulon.
"The anticipation is always great at this time of the year before the qualifiers for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals are revealed, but for a second season the calculations will have an added edge with three more teams going through to the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup," said ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath.
"The four top-ranked sides from the five Amlin Challenge Cup Pools will have home advantage over their Heineken Cup rivals and the quality of those games once again promises to be of the very highest standard."
Last season the Blues, Gloucester Rugby and the Scarlets were the Heineken Cup representatives who went into the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, so there is still all to play for among those teams who might not make the Heineken Cup last eight.
And while Pool 6 is a two-horse race between Toulouse and London Wasps, things could hardly be tighter in Pools 3 and 5 where just three points separate the top three teams.
In Pool 3, the battle is between Toulon (13 points), Munster (11 points) and the Ospreys (10 points) while in Pool 5, the Scarlets lead the way on 15 points followed by Leicester Tigers on 13 points and Perpignan a further one point adrift.
Tournament newcomers Toulon - who have beaten the Ospreys 19-14 and London Irish 38-17 at Stade Felix Mayol - now face the acid home test in the shape of former double champions Munster on Sunday afternoon while the
Ospreys, who have yet to win on the road this season, must beat London Irish at the Madejski Stadium to stay in contention.
In Pool 5, Leicester Tigers and Perpignan have away day targets at the Scarlets and Benetton Treviso respectively while the two sole surviving 100 per cent teams, Northampton Saints in Pool 1 and Toulouse in Pool 6, both enjoy home advantage.