Super Rugby launches its 25th season this weekend, just three months after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in stunning fashion and Japan reached the last eight for the first time in their history.
However, many of the victorious Springbok squad are playing in Europe while the Japan's only franchise the Sunwolves will say goodbye at the end of the campaign.
An unprecedented January start of a new Super Rugby season may be greeted with apathy by many fans but will come with a greater sense of urgency in Australia where rugby faces a new year of challenges.
In New Zealand and South Africa the opening of the season on Friday may at best evoke a mixture of surprise and indifference.
In both countries the cricket season is in full swing: New Zealand will play a Twenty20 cricket international against India in Wellington at the same time as the Chiefs and Blues will play the first match of the Super Rugby season.
Meanwhile, Argentina may have some optimism for the Jaguares who made history last year by reaching the Super Rugby final for the first time, though that didn't lead to the success at international level that had been expected.
Pumas & Jaguares
Jaguares coach Gonzalo Quesada is downplaying suggestions the South Americans can go one step further than last year's breakthrough effort and win the championship in only their fifth year.
Their post-World Cup losses are relatively light, although significant, with only Pablo Matera, Tomás Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Ramiro Moyano and Enrique Pieretto taking flight.
Quesada is looking at the big picture for Argentina rugby, filling the gaps with young talent and with plans not to risk player burnout before the international season as the 10th-ranked Los Pumas target the top eight before the draw is made in November for the 2023 World Cup.
"I think the message is clear that the priority, and most important, are Los Pumas," he declared. "The national team is the largest to which one can aspire. That is clear in all heads and[what we are] working on."