Both theoretical analysis and eddy-damped quasi-normal Markovian (EDQNM) simulations are carried out to investigate the different decay regimes of an initially non-self-similar isotropic turbulence. Breakdown of self-similarity is due to the consideration of a composite three-range energy spectrum, with two different slopes at scales larger than the integral length scale. It is shown that, depending on the initial conditions, the solution can bifurcate towards a true self-similar decay regime, or sustain a non-self-similar state over an arbitrarily long time. It is observed that these non-self-similar regimes cannot be detected, restricting the observation to time exponents of global quantities such as kinetic energy or dissipation. The actual reason is that the decay is controlled by large scales close to the energy spectrum peak. This theoretical prediction is assessed by a detailed analysis of triadic energy transfers, which show that the largest scales have a negligible impact on the total transfers. Therefore, it is concluded that details of the energy spectrum near the peak, which may be related to the turbulence production mechanisms, are important. Since these mechanisms are certainly not universal, this may at least partially explain the significant discrepancies that exist between experimental data and theoretical predictions. Another conclusion is that classical self-similarity theories, which connect the asymptotic behaviour of either the energy spectrum or the velocity correlation function and the turbulence decay exponent, are not particularly relevant when the large-scale spectrum shape exhibits more than one range.