I find that if you're in the zone and are earning AP and kicking ass and the lv. 1 just isn't there, you're better off doing what you're doing than stop gaining AP and trying to force the lv. 1. This applies to a lv. 2 as well unless you're lv. 3 is geniunely worse than your lv. 2 or you're running out of time.
This even applies with Sly and Raiden. The only exception is probably Sweet Tooth because his lv.2 is unusable ass.
Sanity is a one trick pony, all you get with it is rational thought, but with crazy the sky's the limit.