What are the perfect preparations for the Open?
Someone, somewhere is getting it right. Either by design or by accident, one golfer this week will arrive upon a formula to win the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham.
What form and circumstance it takes is as big a question as the identity of the player who finds it. We can theorise all we like on how best to prepare for an Open, but there is no definitive answer.
Some golfers like to play themselves into form the week before a major; others like to take themselves out of the competitive mix and hone their games at secluded ranges far from the madding crowds.
In years past the choice of playing the Scottish Open on a wet parkland course like Loch Lomond seemed to make little sense. "I just want to feel the heat of competition, I can adjust my game later" was the usual explanation from the top pros.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke won the Claret Jug in 2011 at Royal St George's. The 2012 event takes place at Royal Lytham. Photo: Getty
These players might have been developing competitive instincts, but they were doing nothing to sharpen their games for the challenges of fast, firm links courses.
They were, though, stuffing their bank accounts with tidy appearance fees and handy shares from a lucrative prize fund. Never underestimate the lure of big money, even if it would appear to compromise a player's chances of landing the game's most important trophy.
Like last year, this issue is not so relevant this week with the Scottish Open being played on the picturesque links of Castle Stuart near Inverness.
After the staging of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, it means that European Tour players will have had the chance to play links golf in two of the three weeks leading up to the Open.
Last year's Open winner at Royal St George's, Darren Clarke, played the Scottish event which was shortened to 54 holes after torrential rain caused landslides and an abandonment of the third round.
The Ulsterman played a miserable final round on the Sunday and left for Kent in a filthy mood. He was pretty convinced he was fit only for the golfing equivalent of the knacker's yard.
This slough of despondency persisted until an eve-of-championship practice round with the then newly crowned US Open champion, Rory McIlroy.
Towards the end of this fateful knock, the two Northern Ireland men caught up with South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. Clarke was suddenly surrounded by three young pups who could all boast a major title.
What is more, they took the opportunity to brag about their triumphs. "Where's your major, Darren?" they bantered as they headed down Sandwich's closing holes.
This playful mickey-taking was what it took to turn around Clarke's mood. Then coach Pete Cowen reminded his veteran pupil that there was no better competitor in adverse weather and sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella whispered to the player that, actually, he could hole putts.
Suddenly, a glorious golfing fairytale became ready to trundle off the major production line as Darren Clarke won his maiden major title with a three-shot victory.
So what is the key for the Open hopefuls as they seek, in their various ways, the right formula for a successful challenge at Royal Lytham next week?
"No matter what the preparation is, they must feel when they get there they are already ready," says two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington.
The Irishman famously chose the Irish PGA on a links course ahead of a Loch Lomond dash for cash to ready himself for his breakthrough 2007 victory at Carnoustie. Now the Scottish Open is on a links course, he has happily entered the Castle Stuart event.
"You can't get to the Wednesday evening (of Open week) and start panicking that you need to do more. You've got to have quite a calmness about you - that what I've got is what I'm going to play with," Harrington added.
"You have to admire Tiger Woods, who has obviously won the most in the modern age. You don't see him on the range beating balls in the week of a major. He turns up with his game ready."
So that is the state of readiness the leading Lytham contenders will be trying to achieve this week.
Don't look for too many clues at Castle Stuart, though. Twelve months ago the champion in the Highlands, Luke Donald, collected his trophy in fine style and headed south - but so did his game. By the time he reached the Kent venue for the Open, the Midas touch was gone and he missed the cut.
Donald defends his title in Scotland this week and much as the world number one would like to retain the crown, his eye - inevitably -will be on the bigger prize the following week.
Like everyone else in the Open field, he will be wondering whether he is getting it right in the build-up to golf's greatest championship.
What is more, Donald and co will probably not have a clue as to whether they have achieved that goal until they prepare to sleep on the eve of the Open. Only if they can feel that air of calm, identified by Harrington, are they in with a real chance.