The FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International will get off to a mouth-watering start on Monday with replays of both of last year's semifinals as part of the opening set of fixtures.
Three-time champions FNB Maties will host FNB UJ at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch in the first fixture of the 2013 season, and with both teams fielding significantly different line-ups from the ones that did battle in their semifinal last year, there will be plenty to prove.
New Maties coach Chris Rossouw will want his side to back up their encouraging pre-season results with the kind of form that has seen them lose just two regular-season games at home in five years, whilst UJ boss Hugo van As will be equally keen to lay down an early marker.
Defending champions FNB UP-Tuks will travel to Potchefstroom to take on FNB NWU-Pukke, and coach Nollis Marais has taken no chances by naming a powerful side which contains no less than three junior world champions in centre William Small-Smith, flank Shaun Adendorff and lock Marvin Orie.
NWU-Pukke have enjoyed something of a revival in recent years under the stewardship of coach Hannes Esterhuizen, and they will be aware that there can be no greater statement than downing the defending champions in the opening round.
Down in Cape Town the FNB UCT Ikey Tigers will be seeking revenge against the FNB NMMU Madibaz in their Monte Taljaard trophy clash at the Green Mile.
The Madibaz took the trophy in dramatic style in Port Elizabeth last season, so they can expect a stern examination when they square off with Kevin Foote's team beneath Table Mountain.
Newcomers FNB Wits will make their Varsity Cup debut in front of their home crowd when they clash with a new-look FNB UFS-Shimlas outfit that have shown some formidable pre-season form under the guidance of new coach Michael Horak.
The former Cheetahs defence coach has brought in Hendro Scholtz and Barry Goodes as his assistants this year as the Free State side look to improve on a disappointing campaign last year which saw them fail to qualify for the semifinals.
However, they will face a fired-up Wits team that will be desperate to show that they can compete at this level after gaining promotion by winning the Varsity Shield last year.
Meanwhile, in the Varsity Shield on Monday, last year's Wooden Spoonists the FNB UKZN Impi will be looking to defend their spot at the top of the standings when they host the FNB CUT Ixias in Pietermaritzburg.
The Impi secured a morale-boosting victory over FNB TUT in Pretoria on Thursday, leaving the former Varsity Cup outfit without a win in two games this season.
The TUT Vikings will travel to Alice on Monday to face the FNB Fort Hare Blues who will be looking to bounce back from their opening defeat to the Impi in front of their passionate home crowd.
FNB Varsity Cup fixtures - Monday, February 4:
FNB Maties v FNB UJ, Danie Craven Stadium - 4.45pm (TV)
FNB NWU-Pukke v FNB UP-Tuks, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds - 7pm (TV)
FNB UCT v FNB NMMU, UCT Rugby Fields - 7pm
FNB Wits v FNB Shimlas, Wits Rugby Stadium - 7pm