Who will be crowned kings of Europe?
"Internationals are physical and pressurised, but in terms of an all-round challenge the Heineken Cup is bigger. Take nothing away from internationals and all the pride, but sometimes the standard of the Heineken Cup is higher."
Not the words of some excitable PR type, but a player who won the World Cup with England.
Such has been the growth in stature and quality of European rugby's showpiece club tournament over the past 14 years that Mike Tindall's remarks back in January barely raised an eyebrow.
The Gloucester centre was pondering his side's critical pool match against Cardiff Blues, one that another ill-timed injury ultimately prevented him from playing in.
As it was, there were still 22 internationals among the two starting line-ups, a fair reflection of the sort of quality now standard in many of the tournament's match-ups.
This weekend's opening skirmishes illustrate the point.
Leinster v London Irish, Munster v Northampton, Cardiff Blues v Harlequins, Stade Francais v Edinburgh and Leicester v Ospreys are all contests to warm the cockles of any rugby fan as the colder, darker days of autumn set in.
This year's contenders from England, Wales and Scotland set their sights on the Heineken Cup
Friday's opening night includes a meeting of two former champions, Ulster (1999) and Bath (1998) at Ravenhill, but top billing undoubtedly goes to the clash at a capacity RDS in Dublin.
Defending champions Leinster, top of the Magners League despite the delayed entrance of their Lions this season, host free-scoring London Irish, hurtling along at 30 points a game in the Guinness Premiership and semi-finalists two years ago on their last foray into the Heineken.
Such is the strength of the hosts' backline that Rob Kearney, who announced himself as a world star with his performances for the Lions in the Test series in South Africa, only makes the bench.
The Exiles, meanwhile, are among those teams looking to establish themselves as a genuine European power, joining the Leicesters, Munsters, Toulouses and Wasps of this world.
"It is probably easier to predict the end of the economic downturn than go to Leinster first up," quips their ebullient coach Toby Booth. "But we want to test ourselves against the best and we are going to be tested from the outset. They are a formidable side but we aspire to be in that upper bracket."
A lofty ambition perhaps, but not unrealistic for a club that has made impressive progress in recent years and narrowly missed out on a first domestic title last season.
Along with perennial contenders Leicester, and perhaps Northampton, Irish represent England's best hope of adding to their six titles, two more than France and Ireland, the only other countries to have produced a winner.
So what prospect of any of the four Welsh, two Scottish or two Italian sides disrupting that status quo this year?
OK, let's be honest, we can probably discount the latter. Treviso will do well to win a single match in a group featuring Munster, Perpignan and Northampton, while Viadana are unlikely to break their Heineken Cup duck with Leicester, Ospreys and Clermont Auvergne for company.
Win-bonus points will be the requirement against Italian opposition for the three contenders in what are likely to be the two most fiercely contested groups, with only one team likely to emerge from each.
The two Scottish sides at least have hopes of reaching the last eight, even if few would put too many euros on it.
The one occasion Glasgow made it out of their group was 11 years ago, when there was a play-off stage before the quarter-finals. They lost 90-19 at Leicester. The joke doing the rounds at the time was that if you said the score quickly, it sounded like a draw.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are far from a laughing stock now, but the game north of the border could do with one of the two making a statement on the European stage to build on the progress made in the Magners League.
Wales came within a missed shoot-out kick of having their first finalist last season (Cardiff Blues) since the inaugural competition in 1996, the Blues and Ospreys both reaching the knock-out stages for a second successive year.
The capital side, without several key players, may struggle to match that feat this time round, but the Ospreys still have ample room for improvement with the quality at their disposal.
Will Brian O'Driscoll be celebrating a second successive Leinster triumph next May?
"Leinster waited 14 years to win it," notes Ospreys captain Ryan Jones. "We have only been around for six. I think we are doing alright so far."
Nevertheless, Jones admits their dismal 43-9 quarter-final capitulation to Munster in Limerick last season "didn't sit well". "We learnt some pretty harsh lessons there," he added.
The biggest one, perhaps, that unless you finish top of your group and among the top four seeds, progressing beyond the quarter-finals will always be a tall order.
Getting out of their pool will be hard enough, but the Ospreys can take heart from the likes of Munster and Leinster - teams that kept knocking at the door before finally barging it down.
The history of the competition, especially in the past decade, suggests that once a side reaches the European summit, there is a good chance of them climbing the mountain again.
Leicester, Toulouse, Wasps and Munster have all tasted glory twice since the turn of the decade.
As the 24 participants embark on another European adventure this weekend, a second successive Leinster triumph, to this observer at least, looks the most likely outcome.
But who knows which parts the sponsor's tipple will refresh this year?