Four-time winner Higgins impressed with a 10-5 first-round victory over Robert Milkins, and looked to be approaching the form that last saw him take the title four years ago.
The 39-year-old fired breaks of 77, 75, 69, and a clinching 106 in the second session as he coasted home against Gloucester potter Milkins, who took the match beyond its evening interval but was thoroughly outplayed.
Milkins said of his conqueror: “It’s going to take a good man to beat him on that form.
“He’s playing really good stuff. I think I did well to get five frames.”
Higgins has sprung back to competitive form level this year, notably in taking the Welsh Open title in February to end a two-and-a-half-year major trophy drought.
He had openly expressed fears his days as a winner were over, but Higgins is daring to dream of a fifth world title.
He said: “I’m feeling relief and pride to beat Robert because he’s a dangerous player. I knew I’d lost my last four matches to him.
“I thought I hit the ball well. I missed a few but I felt good in amongst them.”
Asked directly whether he was a potential champion, Higgins initially said: “Nah. There’s more and more contenders out there. I probably know what it takes to win it but there’s more favoured players than me.”
But the desire is there, and unmistakably he does have one eye on the trophy.
Higgins added: “It would be amazing if I could win it and go level with somebody like Ronnie O’Sullivan on five titles. That would be beyond my wildest dreams. The fire is still there.”
Dott, unseeded this year but a proven Crucible class act and champion in 2006, was a 10-8 winner earlier as he ousted Ricky Walden.