This article examines the history of the use of regimes in urban politics. It argues the highlight is Stone’s Regime politics because he uses the concept of regime to answer a specific problem – why did politicians with different electoral bases of support create similar governing coalitions? Stone’s answer acknowledges the need for the ‘capacity to act’ within structures of power. Broadening the account to different types of regime makes analysis more descriptive and less explanatory. But rather than dismissing broader accounts, it is better to unpick the components underlying different regime forms to understand the capacity to act in different contexts. Here we find that factors which go into explaining collective action provide the foundations for regime analysis.