The observed rate of reaction in the dysprosium triflate catalyzed aza-Piancatelli rearrangement is controlled by a key off-cycle binding between aniline and catalyst. Deconvoluting the role of these ancillary species greatly broadens our understanding of factors affecting the productive catalytic pathway. We demonstrate that the rate of reaction is controlled by initial competitive binding between the furylcarbinol and nitrogen nucleophile using either a Brønsted or Lewis acid catalyst and that the resulting rearrangement proceeds without involving the Brønsted and Lewis acid catalyst. This shows conclusively that the rate-controlling step and selectivity of reaction are decoupled. © 2013 American Chemical Society.