Mark Allen has no desire to sift through the detritus of his Crucible career to date as he prepares to embark on his latest mission to rid himself of the unwanted tag of one of the best players to never reach a World Championship final.
The 37-year-old Allen is convinced he is in the shape of his life after a season which yielded three ranking wins, including a maiden British title in November, in tandem with a dramatic weight loss programme, through which he has lost nearly seven stone.
Yet Allen can’t escape the stats that betray a desperate record in the sport’s flagship event, with just three quarter-final appearances in the 13 years since he made his solitary exit in the one-table stage, losing to John Higgins in the 2009 Semifinals.
Shocking defeats to the likes of Chinese qualifier Cao Yupeng and Zhou Yuelong have been interspersed with heartbreaking near-misses, none more so than his 2010 quarter-final against Graeme Dott, when he lost the last three frames to fall in a 13- 12 which grants more grudges than most.
Another Chinese qualifier, world number 36 Fan Zhengyi, awaits Allen in Monday’s opening round and the Northern Irishman is in no mood to reopen old wounds as he continues to search for the magic formula that will enable him to realize his burning ambition .
“I’m coming to the Crucible after my best season to date and my confidence levels are high, but a semi-final appearance isn’t good enough and the only person who can fix that is me,” Allen told the PA News Agency .
“There is no point going back over what went wrong and I really can’t put my finger on it. Some years I wasn’t at my best and other times I was beaten by the best player.
“I love the Crucible and the story connected to it, and I want to be a part of that story. Maybe there’s a bit of wanting it too much. It has always been my dream since I started playing at the age of 12 to become world champion and world number one.”
Allen certainly appears to have placed himself in the best possible position to achieve these goals, and he believes it is no coincidence that his triple title season has coincided with his determination to forge a new approach to his perspective off the table.
“It’s probably just complete laziness that I haven’t done it sooner,” Allen admitted, referring to his weight loss. “The changes I’ve made on and off the table have worked well this year, but I don’t want to be a one season wonder, I want to keep winning tournaments for years to come.
“If you had told me 10 or 15 years ago that I wouldn’t have won a world title at 37, I probably would have seen myself coming to the end of my career.
“But these days 37 seems to be the new 27, and I’m probably just hitting my prime. When you see guys still winning big tournaments in their late 40s, I realize I still have so many possibilities and so much to offer.”