The future of the Super Rugby competition will be hammered out behind closed doors this season while on the field the Chiefs will be bidding for a hat-trick of titles.
The Australian, South African and New Zealand unions have a June deadline to present a unified product to broadcasters, with the current rights deal set to expire in 2015.
The need for change is about the only thing agreed to, and the rival unions face a bruising round of negotiations to produce a format that can rejuvenate the 15-team competition, which has placed a heavy emphasis on local derbies in the current broadcast agreement.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has said how the money is allocated is going to be critical.
Competing proposals have advocated expansion, with one of the more adventurous shake-ups pushing Australia and New Zealand into a single conference and South Africa into a second conference with a team from Argentina.
The new season kicks off quietly this weekend with two South Africa derbies.