For the casual rugby fan - those who gorge the Six Nations but believe that the Premiership was renamed the Premier League a few years ago - the new season starts not with a bang but with a whimper.
Those running the Pro14 believe it can become a weekly behemoth, and Leinster's astonishing success last season shows that the quality at the top of the competition is as good as it is anywhere else. It's the competitiveness down the league that's the issue.
Arguments about the league's competitiveness often corral around team selection, and Leinster's pick for last night's win at the Cardiff Blues gave plenty of grist for mills.
Leinster came from behind to win by a single point - 33-32 - in spite of starting a team featuring three regular Irish internationals: Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath and Dave Kearney. That they still won is a testament to the champions' awesome level of depth, but is the fact that Leinster can kick off a season without their most recognisable stars stifling the potential development of the competition?
This proved to be a talking point around this game, and indeed ahead of the launch of this season's competition. The Rugby Paper's Peter Jackson wrote of how Johnny Sexton has become "invisible" on Pro14 weekends:
Over the last two seasons Sexton has started nine matches for Leinster in the PRO12-14 plus one as a sub. All but one took place in his hometown, either at the RDS in Ballsbridge or on the bigger stage across the road at what we old-timers remember fondly as Lansdowne Road.
The one non-Irish appearance was at Cardiff Arms Park against Blues on October 1, 2016, his only PRO14 match in Wales over the last two years. When he brings his champion football team to the Welsh capital next month, Pep Guardiola will have been there twice as often as the Irish prince of fly-halves in not much more than six months....
...Under Martin Anayi’s leadership as chief executive, what began as the Celtic League has pushed its frontiers back all the way to Africa in search of new markets. Their awarding of exclusive live rights to the Irish pay-per-view channel Premier Sports eliminates audiences of up to 160,000 on BBC Wales for their Friday night Scrum V live.
The PRO14 swear the increased money makes it worthwhile but without saying how much is involved. Maybe tens of thousand will subscribe and the venture will be a resounding success but for those who will not be coughing up, it will serve to heighten Sexton’s invisibility.
Guess how many or, more to the point how few, of Leinster's Champions' Cup winning team are starting at the Arms Park tomorrow night? Two and neither is a Grand Slammer.
— Peter Jackson (@JackoRugby) August 30, 2018
Stephen Jones - rarely slow to criticise the running of the competition in the past - made the point while absolving Leinster from blame.
Elsewhere, rugby writer Alex Shaw pointed out that the 'Leinster B' phenomenon merely accentuates the quality of the champions' approach.
The moaning about “Leinster B” cuts to the bone. They got squad players more match fit, given youngsters experience & given internationals a well-needed rest, all the whilst still winning. And then people marvel at why they’re so effective at season’s end? Just great management.
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) September 1, 2018
This launched plenty of differing opinions of it all:
The thing about this is Leinster have exactly what every other province, and club, should aspire to. These ‘B’ team players are already better than a lot of first string at other clubs. Not a Leinster am by any stretch but they should be rightly admired as the gold standard! https://t.co/RUI4NF1akz
— JK (@jkk_ijk) September 1, 2018
Yep. The complaints I've seen about Leinster's selection devaluing the league - teams are responsible for their own credibility. I don't believe the league is devalued, but if it is, it's not league winners and European champions Leinster devaluing it.
— Jane (@stackeroo) September 1, 2018
There's quite a strong correlation between those saying Leinster can regularly rest their key players because the Pro 14 has no relegation, and those who are fighting tooth and nail to avoid ring-fencing the Premiership.
— Neil Treacy (@neil_treacy) September 1, 2018
This is a really good point. If I'm going to a Leinster game, I'm not waiting to see if Sexton, Ringrose, etc are named before going. If a Cardiff (or any team)'s fan is, it says more about their own team than it does about the league. https://t.co/4zZVa48Vph
— Jonathan (@JFitzpatrick92) September 1, 2018
Interesting debate going on about the worth of the Pro 14. On the one hand there's no relegation which means star players are often left out devaluing the league, on the other flog players in English Prem leaving them knackered for England and World Cup
— Robin Davey (@robindavey01) September 1, 2018