Anxious backbench councillors have predicted a political 'battle royale' if a Boris Johnson-style elected mayor is imposed on Birmingham or the West Midlands.
It comes as members of a watchdog committee have called for an inquiry into the proposals for joint working between the Birmingham and Black Country authorities and the prospect of an elected mayor for the region.
A little over two years after a referendum rejected an elected mayor to run Birmingham, plans for a regional mayor covering Birmingham, the Black Country and wider West Midlands are back on the political agenda.
Five local authorities agreed to team up on economic development and strategic transport and Solihull and Coventry are in talks to join them.
Last week, the ten Greater Manchester authorities secured extra powers and government money in return for agreeing to have an elected mayor by 2017.
But a member of Birmingham's governance scrutiny committee has criticised proposals which could impose an elected mayor 'by the back door'.
Coun John Lines (Con Bartley Green) said: "It has been two and a half years since the people of Birmingham voted no to an elected mayor and now we have an email from the council leader talking about one."
Behind the scenes, councillors are furious that this appears to be back on the agenda and several have predicted a 'battle royale' if this is driven through.
Committee chairman Carl Rice (Lab Ladywood) said the issue would be looked at by the committee and was likely to approach similar committees in the Black Country to discuss a joint inquiry.
He said councillors should be able to influence the debate but was keen that Birmingham, being by far the largest local authority in the UK, was not seen to be dominating its neighbours.
He said: "Any future governance arrangements have to be based on consensus among all the local authorities."
Following the landmark devolution deal with Greater Manchester last week, Chancellor George Osborne said the door was open for talks with Birmingham and the Black Country.
Rank and file councillors have generally been opposed to directly elected mayors because they see their own roles and influence sidelined under an all powerful individual.