Tom Bradshaw: Coaching contest will raise game
It's a commonplace – a cliché, even – that a squad in which there is plenty of "competition for the jersey" tends to produce the best starting XV.
But what's often over-looked is the issue of good-natured competition between coaches. What exactly can that add to the mix?
Quite a lot, it would seem, at Farleigh House, where Mike Ford is happy to confess to some healthy competition with fellow first-team coach Toby Booth.
Ford and Booth are both new arrivals at Bath Rugby and form part of a five-strong team whose brief is to bring a new level of attention to detail to the club's coaching.
The new training arrangement is also allowing them to pit their wits against each other in a way that Ford says benefits the entire squad.
With Ford taking charge of defence and Booth masterminding attack, the duo are putting their strategies to the test against one another.
"Toby and I have both been head coaches before and we've spoken about how we've both neglected one area [of coaching] at one stage or another," Ford tells me.
"When I was at Sarries, we scored a lot of points but you could say I neglected defence a bit.
"Toby and I have been challenging each other, attack versus defence. If his attack is very good then my defence has to be very good too. We are gelling very well."
Ford's training ground tale augers well for the larger coaching team, with Neal Hatley having responsibility for the forwards and Brad Davis for kicking and skills.
As the events of the past couple of days have shown, however, events can disrupt the best-laid coaching plans.
There are bumps in the road during any season and it is unfortunate that Bath have clattered into a few before the season has even begun.
Rob Webber has impressed the Bath coaches with his attitude during pre-season, so news of an extended injury absence is a big blow.
Francois Louw's call-up to the Boks, meanwhile, is atrocious timing but not altogether unexpected – he told me last year he would always play for his country "in a heartbeat".
On the positive side, Gold's excellent relationship with the South African Rugby Union should at least ensure the flanker is released back to his club as swiftly as a 20-hour flight allows.