[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exact assessment of the autonomic nervous system's (ANS) activity by means of heart rate variability (HRV) is a long-standing challenge. Although many techniques have been proposed to take up the challenge, none ever proposed a rationale for the approach behind the technique or a satisfying discrimination of the two activities which underlie the autonomic control of HRV. We here propose a new method, providing both an understanding of the discrimination's nature and a framework which we believe leads to a thorough assessment of the sympathovagal balance, as a trajectory between points in a well-chosen space. The methodology assumes tools from scale invariance/covariance physics. The sympathovagal balance is obtained on a beat-to-beat basis with the dynamics portrayed through a trajectory. Furthermore, universal trajectories are sought which would comprehensively describe the effect of atropine and isoproterenol injections on systems underlying the heart pace variations. Non-invasive assessment of the respective activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic subsystems of the ANS would be possible through cardiac autonomic measurements.