I think this is the first time that we really get some foreshadowing to the idea of the curse breaking. Shigure’s hope is that the jyuunishi will choose Tooru over Akito, thus thinning out the string that attaches them to “god.”
It’s so interesting reading this now and seeing Hatori’s thoughts: “Who could blame him for choosing her over Akito?” It’s a thought we all can agree with, but it is the beginning of the curse breaking. This panel is the manifestation of the first cracks between Akito and the zodiac. Yuki choosing Tooru over Akito might seem natural to the reader, but it was completely unnatural. It went against everything that the spirit of the rat wanted. It was truly Yuki pushing and asserting his own will as more important than the spirit’s.
The beginning of the end.
Edit: On the very next page, Hatori then thinks to himself “I could never do that,” which reinforces just how powerful the curse is.