Halfway through the group stage of this seasons' Heineken Cup campaign, the pools have begun to take shape with powers from Ireland, France and England taking a dominant grip on proceedings.
The European game returns Friday evening after a full schedule of November internationals having taken centre stage for the past six weeks, signifying the beginning of club rugby's essential winter phase.
Ahead of this weekend's fixtures, there are a sample of specific storylines to keep an eye out for, such as old faces returning to new surroundings and some teams threatened with the eventuality of bowing out of competition even at these early stages.
Leicester Tigers' 2013/14 season is going far from how the club would have hoped on the domestic scale, with Richard Cockerill's side currently fifth in the Aviva Premiership, 10 points off top spot.
After winning the league last term, it's been a sharp fall from grace for the English giants, but Europe has so far provided a welcome distraction for the star-studded Tigers.
So far, the team is second in Pool 5 and two points away from leaders Ulster, but face a tough contest of their position in third-place Montpellier this Sunday, who could move above them should they be able to triumph at Welford Road.
With certain individuals settling back into their club settings after a bout of international fixtures, Leicester will hope that their squad can benefit as a result of their re-strengthening.
Europe has so far been the one facet of Leicester's season in which they've been able to call even mildly cheerful, so continuing a run through the Heineken Cup is essential if the club are to make a lot of their campaign.
Scarlets are the only club who have managed to claw back much joy this season amongst the dour setting of what currently taints the Welsh regions.
With talents both young and old leaving the Welsh clubs, the likes of Cardiff Blues and Ospreys, however, have not fared as well and are currently at the bottom of their respective Heineken Cup pools.
This weekend, all three Welsh teams in Europe's premier competition face a stern test of their abilities, with Scarlets travelling to last year's finalists Clermont, Cardiff hosting Glasgow Warriors and Ospreys making the trip to reigning Top 14 champions Castres.
For the sadness to continue, each of Wales' remaining bastion would have to lose their outings this weekend, and it's a firm possibility that might just be the case.
One would like to think that even without the star talents flocking to France and England, Wales would be able to cope with what talent is coming through their academies.
However, while all remains well on the international stage, this weekend threatens to serve as another reminder of how woefully things are turning on the club level.
Benetton Treviso and Zebre are by no means regarded as two of Europe's giants, but the Italian representatives nonetheless continue to disappoint.
The Pro12 pair are both bottom of Pools 5 and 3, respectively, and have yet to earn even a losing bonus point between them in Europe this term.
On Saturday, Zebre will host Saracens while Treviso make their way to Ravenhill in the hopes of deposing Ulster, neither of which are simple tasks by any means.
With two more losses on the cards, the Italians can be all but ruled out of making it through to next stage of the European tournament by the numbers, but their fates are all but sealed in realistic terms, regardless.
In three Heineken Cup meetings with Leinster over the last 12 years, Northampton are yet to beat their Irish counterparts, the most recent encounter between the two being the final of the 2010/11 season.
Enjoying one of their most successful seasons to date, however, Jim Mallinder and his men may hope to turn that record around this weekend.
Franklin's Gardens has been a fruitful hunting ground for the English giants this season at which they are yet to lose.
With that streak on the line, as well as something with a lot more context, the tide could turn against the Irish visitors on Saturday in what could provide a very significant tip in the power scales, with Northampton benefiting.
Having left Muster in 2012 after spending six years at Thomond Park, Lifeimi Mafi makes his return to Limerick this weekend, but this time as an Irish enemy.
Now at Perpignan, the Tongan will be hoping to put frowns on the faces of the fans he would once delight on a weekly basis and winning one Heineken Cup with his former club.
A player who used to be a fan favourite at Munster now threatens to dim Rob Penney's chances of making it to the knockout stages of the tournament, with which Mafi is so familiar.
The French outfit currently lead Pool 6 with just a point advantage over Munster in what will be a critical fixture for both teams, with Mafi having as much on the line as any other.
As things stand, Pool 2 is the tightest of any Heineken Cup group, with just a point separating first and fourth place.
Exeter Chiefs and Toulon currently lead the show and are tied on six points apiece, each team in the running having tasted victory and defeat in their first two outings.
The stakes are high at Sandy Park for Saturday's encounter, and a win promises to have a massive impact on who tops the pool, Toulon hoping to do what Cardiff Blues could not in triumphing in Exeter.
The defending Heineken Cup champions will undoubtedly benefit from the return of their international stars, but they are coming off the back of a hefty defeat against Stade Francais and are coming up against another team with massive attacking potential.