Re: man, it's tough!
When I was taking a newbie class (not Aikido) I noticed that my fighting actually got a lot better. I believe this was because I was not only back to practising the basics for an hour a night but I had to really make sure I got them right. Otherwise I would pass along my technique which, over the years of not practising the basics, had become somewhat less than perfect.
It just reinforces that you have to have a solid foundation if you want anything you build on it to stand up.