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If its a thin carbon steel pan (or a traditional wok) it doesn't matter.
If its some sort of thick bottom pan like cast iron, aluminium, ceramic, stainless steel, etc. it matters because it acts as a heat buffer.
Thanks for the quick response. I'm predominantly using all-clad copper core cookware -- a combination of aluminum and copper layers, with a stainless steel exterior (http://www.all-clad.com/Pages/Collections/COPPER%20CORE.aspx).
And there is the old saw - hot pan, cold oil, no stick. Here is a good read on the subject:
If you heat the oil and the pan together you get feedback as the process unfolds. By watching the oil you can tell the precise moment that you need to act. That way, you don't have to adjust your heat or wait longer.
A side note; for anyone that has worked in a restaurant kitchen, one that I am sure they will recognize instantly, and that is the familiar beat up warped bottom aluminum saute/fry pans. The reason the bottom is warped is from being put on high heat, dry (no oil).
To any doubters, I have pans from my restaurant that were purchased new, used over 10 years, never put on high heat dry. Tada!!!, they still have flat bottoms.
Flat bottomed pans you make the rocking world go round.(apologizes to Queen and Freddy Mercury)