After a controversial and fiery contest in last year's Aviva Premiership final, the new 2013/14 season looks set for yet more fireworks come the opening game between Newcastle Falcons and Bath on the 6th of September.
Champions Leicester will face the unenviable task of dealing with the nine game ban of director of rugby Richard Cockerill, which may lead to a slightly unsettled early season for the holders. Toby Flood has taken on the role of captaincy, which will add pressure onto the England fly half.
The Tigers have a good chance of a good start, with winnable games against Worcester and Newcastle at home in their opening three games, as well as a trip to the Rec to play Bath in the second round of fixtures.
Runners up from last season Northampton made the biggest statement with their summer recruitment. George North, fresh from his heroic performances for the Lions over the summer, joins from Scarlets and looks set to make an instant impact as the Saint's look to go one step further to glory this year.
Fellow Lion, and try scorer in the final test against Australia, Alex Corbisiero has also made the move to Franklin's Gardens from London Irish, as Jim Mallinder's men go in search of their first title after last year's agonising defeat at Twickenham.
Harlequins and Saracens, who both finished in the top four alongside Leicester and Northampton last season, will look to get past their respective disappointments in last season's semi-final defeats by securing playoff berths this year.
Mark McCall has a number of international players to choose from, as well as bringing in Billy Vunipola from Wasps to play alongside brother Mako. Saracens will have to improve their form in semi-finals, having lost in their last two, if they can make it into the top four.
For Harlequins, despite a low key summer from Conor O'Shea in terms of player recruitment, Quins still have strength in depth which many other clubs would wish for. Ben Botica and Karl Dickson provide both cover and competition at half back, which could be key come international games.
There will be teams who hold top four aspirations themselves. Having flirted with playoff positions last season, Bath will once again be in the hunt for a high finish. Without a major trophy in five years, Bath will finally be looking to put together a good set of results.
New signing Gavin Henson has already managed to hit the headlines, after getting knocked out by teammate Carl Fearns on team night out last month. Despite his controversial actions off the pitch, Henson could still be a key player if Bath are to mount a challenge this year.
Wasps boast two of the best wingers in the Premiership in the form of Tom Varndell and Christian Wade. Varndell topped the try scoring charts last season whilst Wade can call on his brief experience with the Lions down under in the summer.
Gloucester and Exeter impressed heavily last season, but with the stress of playing top teams in the Heineken Cup could find their league form suffering. Exeter have surpassed expectations since promotion in 2010, whilst Gloucester can call on no less than 17 internationally capped players in their hunt for their first Premiership title since 2002.
The three remaining teams in this year's Aviva Premiership all have the potential for success, but will also be wary of threat of relegation. Newcastle have made a welcome return to top flight rugby, losing just two games in a successful Championship campaign.
London Irish will look to forget some poor form last season and lift some spirits as well as last season's position in the table. New signing Andy Fenby made a scoring start to his Exiles career with a hat trick against Nottingham in a pre season friendly.
For Worcester, Dean Ryan will be looking for improvement on a season which saw the Warriors end the season second bottom. Losing Andy Goode to Wasps will make it all the more difficult to get points ticking over.
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