I think I have progressed through three main training approaches. First, for years too long, I trained the techniques. Technique, technique, technique, etc. and thought that would get me where I wanted to be. Nope. Then, I focused on what I call lines of power - the direction of the attack, the defence, the balance, the way/direction uke grips, and so forth, and thought that would get me where I wanted to be. Nope. And now I am focusing on uke's energy and am finally getting somewhere.
Interesting. I have gone through the same phases as you. I only realized that focusing on techniques don't work. Bottomline, techniques in themselves don't work. I guess we are undergoing the phases of shu-ha-ri.