The 2012/13 LV= Cup competition kicks off this weekend with English clubs chasing a spot in the Heineken Cup from next season.
The action gets under way soon with Round 1 commencing on Friday 9 November. Four Welsh sides and 12 English sides will do battle in four pools over four rounds, each playing two home and two away matches.
The top team in each pool will go through to the semi-finals on the second weekend of March, aiming for a place in the Final at Sixways on Sunday March 17th.
Friday 9 November
The opening evening will see two Welsh sides playing at home as Cardiff Blues will host London Wasps. The Blues will be hoping for a better start in this year's competition, having only scored three points in each of their first three pool matches last season.
The first live television broadcast will take place at the Liberty Stadium as the Ospreys play Gloucester. The Ospreys are unbeaten throughout October but will play a Gloucester side under Nigel Davies that will be keen to use their young talent to get off to a good start.
The North London nomads this season, Saracens, will host the defending champions Leicester at the home of Bedford, Goldington Road. Sarries have fared well in Europe but the Tigers never give up silverware without a fight, so this should be a cracking contest between two Premiership heavyweights littered with stars.
Saturday 10 November
The following day, last season's beaten LV= Cup finalists Northampton Saints host current Premiership champions Harlequins. The Saints will be hoping to go one better this season and regain the trophy they won in 2010, but this tough opening fixture will test their mettle.
Elsewhere, the Newport Gwent Dragons play Bath. Off-field controversy marred the Dragons' campaign last year, after they forfeited a match against Saracens due to their home ground at Rodney Parade being frozen and deemed unplayable. Bath, by contrast, did well last time out and lost out only by the narrowest of margins in a nervy semi-final with Leicester.
Saturday's final fixture sees the Worcester Warriors take on the Scarlets at Sixways. The Scarlets will enter the contest full of confidence, having reached the knockout stages last year and with an impressive league campaign underway this season.
Sunday 11 November
On Sunday afternoon two of the Premiership's struggling sides clash as Sale Sharks visit London Irish. Last season, neither side got out of a group that also contained ultimate champions Leicester, but victory here could give either some much-needed self-belief.
The final fixture of the weekend sees Oxford-based London Welsh play the Exeter Chiefs. Most onlookers will make the Chiefs favourites for this one but Welsh have impressed on occasion this season, having taken a few notable scalps in their domestic league. A victory on debut in the LV= Cup would be something special indeed.