John Higgins believes his collapse against Mark King could signal the beginning of the end for the four-time world champion.
The Wizard of Wishaw held a two-frame lead but King came roaring back to dump the 42-year-old out of the Betway UK Championship.
And a devastated Higgins suggested his 6-5 defeat could be a worrying sign of things to come.
“That’s the beginning of the end for me, collapsing like that. There’s only one way you’re going to go in this game,” he confessed.
“I was just dreadful, it was an awful performance throughout the whole game.
“I totally malfunctioned, every single shot. I just couldn’t pot a ball. It’s something I cannot explain. When you start playing like that, there’s only one way to go.
“I killed him with two frames to go 4-2 up. I should’ve had momentum but he came back really strong.”
King will now play in the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time in 13 years and the Romford potter was delighted with his break of 69 to clinch the deciding frame.
He said: “It’s nice to still be involved in the competition. I was pretty calm and confident in the final frame.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss an easy shots. I told myself to keep positive and I’m delighted to make the break and win it.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Maguire triumphed in the battle of the Scots as he downed Graeme Dott 6-2.
A fifth-frame break of 116 was the highlight for Maguire, who has now reached the last eight of the competition nine times in his career.
But the 36-year-old was not concerned with his impressive consistency and said it’s the winning that counts.
“We don’t play to get to the quarters but I do seem to do well here,” he said, as he looks to repeat his victory in 2004.
“I don’t know if it’s this time of year or this tournament but I’ve been doing well. It’s a nice tournament.
“This competition is important. I think the amount of snooker we play, everyone is ready for this tournament.
“I thought I played well. That was the best I’ve felt since I’ve been here. It was always going to be a tough match but I felt from the word go I controlled the match.”
This was Dott’s best showing at the tournament since 2014 and the former world champion believes Maguire can go all the way at the Barbican, in York.
He said: “He’s got every chance of winning it.I think Stephen thoroughly deserved to win, I think he played a lot better than I did. I couldn’t control the white. I just kept losing position every time I got in. I think he settled quicker than I did.
“If I had Stephen’s cue ball control it would’ve been a lot closer but I didn’t.”
* Watch LIVE coverage of the UK Championship on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds