get this sorted - you're doing time and again. It isn't big and it isn't clever...
Oleg thinks it's big AND clever
...but in all seriousness I have done this twice now, not time and again.
That aside, my main point is that I'm not taking these races seriously at all (as you can tell by my lack of tapering for the last month of racing) and instead using xc to test myself, take risks, and also as a hard session in my generally aerobic weekly plan.
As jonny put it, there's bigger fish to fry, and it's not worth crying over spilled milk at this time of year at these kinds of events. If I start harder than I can tolerate then I take the hit and have a tough race, and that's all.
I think it's good to test out different tactics and see what works for you physically and mentally. For years I thought I'd got it all figured out then one day in November (at a race that didn't matter) decided to have a go at starting harder than I was comfortable with. I ended up having a breakthrough performance and haven't looked back. Sometimes you can't win races unless you give yourself the opportunity to.
Bobby Quinn: "You can run the first minute as hard as you like. Run the second minute at that pace and you'll never recover."
Get out, get in position then relax.
But also agree with Poo Boy's comments about experimenting, I've definitely done that in the past. Be rational about what works best for you too - it might feel good to go out easy and work your way through the pack, but if you get a better result by going with the leaders and suffering in the second half, then you need to do that...