Recent debates over the content and theoretical orientation of urban studies act as a strong reminder that the nature and existence of the city as a form of spatial urban agglomeration is changing. They have acted positively as a heuristic to inspire critical analysis of urbanisation and helped to illuminate the considerable empirical variation over time and space in urban agglomeration forms. However, in shifting the focus onto the planetary reach of urbanisation, such debates risk deflecting attention away from the city core at a time when it too is being subjected to transformation. The city centre has been taken for granted as critical attention has been given to the impact of development and enterprise in extending the city outwards. The recent proliferation of public and policy interest in the future of the city centre as the archetypal expression of urban agglomeration has not been matched by similar growth in academic and theoretical accounts of its transformation. Drawing on the examples of two city centres, and placing them in the context of the recent debates of urban agglomeration theory, this article seeks to initiate deeper analysis and dialogue about the future of the urban core, including how it is being articulated and by whom. It argues for a greater analytic understanding of the ways in which the city centre as a physical and emotional entity has been so resilient, and advocates for stronger engagement with initiatives seeking to reactivate the city centre as a crucial epicentre of urban agglomeration.