Yet often it is an exhibition occasion, little more than an opportunity for stars to strut their stuff, with performance secondary.
Occasionally, it is last-chance saloon before a championship, an opportunity for Britons to grab a selection lifeline. But not here. Olympic entry lists are closed. There is one very different facet, however. This is the penultimate meeting before the Olympic Games return to London after an absence of 54 years.
No athlete is ever content to lose, especially on the eve of such a challenge, so this year's Aviva event has the hardest of edges to it. This preliminary joust is a chance to deliver bruising, psychological wounds to rivals, or quell lingering doubts over form and fitness. Olympic ambitions can crash and burn, or take flight, fuelled by what happens on Friday and Saturday.
More than two-thirds of Britain's Olympic track and field squad, some 50 athletes, are signed up. They include Scotland's Commonwealth 400m hurdles silver medallist Eilidh Child and European 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp.
It will be a reality check for Child's prospects. The line-up includes Jamaica's reigning world champion Kaliese Spencer (holder of the Crystal Palace track record with 52.79 which she ran last year), Melanie Walker, (Beijing Olympic champion and world runner-up last year), plus the American pair of Georganne Moline and Teresa Brown, who booked their Olympic place with second and third in the US trials. All are significantly faster than the Scot.
British rival Perri Shakes-Drayton says she is using the race as an Olympic "dress rehearsal". Child's act needs to be perfect so as to avoid giving her rivals an edge, while not demoralising her compatriot with defeat by a big margin. Currently 15th in the world, ahead of Shakes-Drayton and by far Scotland's highest world-ranked athlete, the Fife woman needs improvement to make her aim of a place in the eight-woman Olympic final more realistic. Both women are candidates for the GB 4x400m relay squad, with the English woman faster on the flat.
Should Sharp decide to run the 800m next weekend she will find three of her embittered selection rivals there to challenge her – Marilyn Okoro, Jemma Simpson, and Emma Jackson. It is understood that all lodged appeals in an attempt to have Edinburgh's Sharp thrown off the team and have themselves restored.
Sharp had achieved only the B standard while they had the A mark, but the Scot had beaten them all and was deemed the form athlete. By selecting her, however, none of the "A" women could then be chosen.
These challenges were dismissed, it was confirmed by UKA on Friday and there is no further appeal. Sharp, however, has been through an emotional wringer, and she would be ill-advised to subject herself to the two-lap race at the Palace where the field also includes Kenyan Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei and her compatriot Winnie Chebet who will both be at the Games. It may be best for her to recharge her batteries, get some decent training in, and find another race before the Games.
Elsewhere, the celebrity fields for this showcase hors d'oeuvre to the Games include China's former world hurdles record-holder and former Olympic champion Liu Xiang, last year's IAAF Female athlete of the year Sally Pearson, world 5000m and 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, plus British world champions Mo Farah (5000m) and Dai Greene (400m hurdles).
Liu celebrates his 29th birthday on Friday when he races, and with a new stride pattern he is running close to world record pace. He is desperate to atone for walking off the track at his home Games four years ago.
Swansea's Greene goes head-to-head with former world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Bershawn Jackson (current world second fastest) and Javier Culson who finished second behind Greene in the worlds. Puerto Rican Culson is world No 1 and beat the Welshman on Friday night in Paris, but Greene will be buoyed by having run a personal best of 47.84.
Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, two of the three fastest 100m men ever, go head to head in the sprint on Friday against a field which includes Commonwealth champion Lerone Clarke and the UK trio of Dwain Chambers, Simeon Williamson, and Mark Lewis-Francis (the latter two are only Olympic relay picks). Powell has more sub-10 second performances than any other athlete, yet was only third in the Jamaican trials, so badly needs to reassert himself. Chambers, until now, has been denied such races, so will relish a return to centre stage.
The French European 100m champion and record holder, Christophe Lemaitre, goes at 200m on Saturday against four-times world medallist Wallace Spearmon and Britons James Ellington and Christian Malcolm. British trials winner Ellington has never raced at this level.