And so the dust has settled on the qualifiers, the final touches are being applied to the arena, players are practising, fans are packing for Sheffield and everyone is wondering what the 2013 Betfair World Championship will bring.
If it’s anything like Crucibles of years gone by then it’ll be high quality snooker, drama, entertainment, controversy, joy, elation, mental implosions, bust-ups, sportsmanship, late nights and plenty more besides.
One of the dictionary definitions of Crucible is: “A place or occasion of severe test or trial.”
You don’t say.
This small theatre-in-the-round in Sheffield is an unlikely sporting Mecca but though it has been renovated and the cast of characters and sponsors have changed over the years, there is a timeless quality to the place.
This is because the World Championship has constancy. Its format, aside from a slight lengthening of the semi-finals, has remained the same for the last 30 years. All champions in the live television age have basically had to pass the same test.
This is a tournament in which careers are defined for good or ill. Jimmy White won more titles than Joe Johnson but is forever known as the six times Crucible runner-up, and Joe for winning as a 150-1 outsider in 1986.
Ghosts of the past haunt the Crucible corridors but we have no need to wallow in nostalgia. The class of 2013 are more than capable of putting on a show to remember.
This season’s titles have been shared around the game’s top stars like a subconscious game of poker, with nobody willing to show their hand until the biggest event of them all.
Throw in the ultimate curveball in the shape of a returning Ronnie O’Sullivan, pictured here with the Betfair Golden Cue, presented to whoever makes the highest break, and you have a pot bubbling with possibilities.
Most people seem to think the top seeds will be relatively untroubled in the first week, but the point about shocks is that you don’t see them coming.
There are six debutants desperate to make an impact. There are also older warhorses for whom time is running out.
There are former champions and players who observers feel could be champions. For them all, the test is the same.
Because however much is made of who you are playing, snooker is the ultimate individual sport. You are entirely alone and, at the table, it is down to you.
So many players exit tournaments disappointed not at how well their opponent has played but by their own performance. Playing well is hard enough at this exacting sport but playing well under pressure is what separates the greats from the rest.
So there’s one more sleep before it all starts again; before lives are shaped forever by what happens on the 12 x 6.
The Crucible will lie silent tonight but tomorrow, and for the next 17 days, it will be alive again to the sound of balls being potted and dreams being made...or destroyed.