The qualification process for Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup team got underway in the Alps last week, with several big names in need of a fillip and everything to play for.
Over the next 12 months, nine men will emerge as automatic picks for Colin Montgomerie's team to face the United States at Celtic Manor next September.
Of those, five will be drawn from the Race to Dubai standings and four from the world rankings. A further three will be selected as wildcards (this number has been increased from two on Monty's behest).
To give you some idea of how Europe might line up next year, here are the nine automatic selections based on the current standings in the rankings.
Martin Kaymer (Germany), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Lee Westwood (England), Ross Fisher (England), Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark), Paul Casey (England), Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Sergio Garcia (Spain), Padraig Harrington (Ireland)
That would leave seven of Sir Nick Faldo's beaten 2008 team - Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Oliver Wilson, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Soren Hansen - relying on Monty's favour as a wildcard.
Of those, you'd have to say Poulter would be a nailed on certainty. The Englishman scored four points from five matches in Valhalla and was arguably the most effective player on either side.
Northern Ireland's McDowell also stands out, having performed consistently at the Majors this season and handled himself well on Ryder Cup debut last year. McDowell's close friendship with McIlroy, and the potential for the pair to play together as they have in the past, would also be a consideration.
The final pick is more difficult to call. If Monty went for experience, he might well turn to Ireland's Paul McGinley (pictured) - who has shown glimpses of a return to form recently and has three victorious Ryder Cup campaigns under his belt.
But if Monty chooses to pick a local player to galvanise the Welsh crowds, Jamie Donaldson and Bradley Dredge could consider themselves in with a shout.
Then there's the Celtic Manor factor. If Monty decides form on the course is his best indicator, 2009 Wales Open winner Jeppe Huldahl of Denmark would be a good option - as would runner-up Niclas Fasth (who has Ryder Cup experience) and perhaps even England's Chris Wood, who finished T10 and impressed at The Open.
Of course there's a lot of golf to be played between now and next September and the potential for just about anybody to force their way into the reckoning.
Certainly, if a European wins a Major you can guarantee they will make the team, regardless of their form for the rest of the season.
But based on nothing more than speculation, and with a large amount of guesswork involved, here is my predicted line-up for Monty's team in Newport to face Corey Pavin's US next September.
Ian Poulter (England)
Ross Fisher (England)
Lee Westwood (England)
Paul Casey (England)
Martin Kaymer (Germany)
Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
Padraig Harrington (Ireland)
Paul McGinley (Ireland)
Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland)
Sergio Garcia (Spain)
Alvaro Quiros (Spain)
FIRST PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2009