The two legends began Friday's session at The Crucible locked at 4-4 in their World Championship semi-final, and there was no quarter given in the first four frames as things stood at 6-6. Then however, 'The Rocket' remerged from the mid-session interval at his imperious best.
Six-time champion O'Sullivan reeled off three consecutive frames to lead 9-6, but Higgins seemed set for some respite when he took control of the next one. However, 'The Wizard of Wishaw' missed a routine black to seal matters - meaning O'Sullivan could force a re-spotted black if he claimed all the 51 points left on the table.
Having notched one-red black combination, he then found himself on an other red, but in a difficult situation. Not only did he need to make the long pot, but also return to the white back to the same end of the table and get position on a black ball that was pushed up against the pink.
On BBC commentary, it was said it would be the "shot of the championship," if O'Sullivan managed to produce the goods. Somehow, he delivered, despite a slight kiss on the black, with his effort described as "outrageous."
It left him a tight angle, but he duly delivered before going on to make the clearance he needed to force a re-spot. The agony for Higgins continued when he missed the first big chance in sudden death, and O'Sullivan needed no invitation to open up a 10-6 lead.
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On Eurosport meanwhile, pundit Alan McManus said: "The red and black are the two best shots I have ever seen in the World Championship back-to-back." Fans on Twitter were also lavish with their praise, @Ido_Shamriz posting: "Stop it Ronnie! It’s Absolutely ridiculous!"
@jacran001 added: "Dear god, the rocket is incredible. Speechless," while @KhurrumRahman wrote: "The long red. he nudge on the black and then to clinch the frame on a res-potted black. When he's on, The Rocket operates on another level."
It put him within seven frames of a final against Judd Trump or fellow veteran Mark Williams. Should O'Sullivan, 46, triumph in Sheffield, he'll draw level with Stephen Hendry's record of seven world titles.