City‐region theory — fuzzy as the boundaries of such a theory may be — centres on the claim that the territorial basis and organizational architecture of the global economy is now a mosaic of globally connected city‐regions rather than nations. Despite some intuitive appeal, there is a growing body of critique which targets specific frailties arising from the theoretical reliance in such arguments on a global capitalist‐logic and, relatedly, the focus on global exchange relations. In exploring the limits of these theoretical tendencies, this paper provides a critical account of the processual and practical formation of Sydney (NSW, Australia) as a city‐regional space of governance. It pays particular attention to the contingent emergence of Sydney’s metropolitan policy regionalism through political mediations of the particular and complex politics elicited by the spatial distributional consequences of city‐region development. Its concluding argument is that city‐region formation must be understood as an ongoing and multiscalar process without autonomy from the national political economy or from its territory.