You're pretty much on the money describing it as a matrix. Like alot of matrices it looks complicated at the start but once you start to make sense of it it's alot easier.
I can clearly remember the light dawning as I stopped trying to think of say, yokomen uchi shiho nage as a distinct technique. Instead realising that there were 3 or 4 ways to recieve a yokomen attack, and that you could pick which technique to tack on the end. In otherwords, you'll get to the stage where you're familiar with a technique and just need to learn how to "get it started" from a particular attack. Enjoy it while you can, I can also remember how sad I was when I realised I'd now seen all of the basic techniques.
You will find it is still repetition just spread out wider. One of the things that attracted me to Aikido was the fact that different stuff wasn't taught to different experience levels, everyone learns the same thing. That may be the nature of the practice I guess, arts which are based on alot of forms and solo technique (eg, working on your front snap kick in a line with 5 others) you can group the beginners together. In Aikido and I'd venture similar arts (say Judo), if you have beginners training together they basically stand there looking at each other trying to figure out what to do.
If you're struggling, the best thing you can do is every time you train a technique, make sure your partner is the highest grade you can possibly get your hands on. Don't be shy about rushing over to nab them when it's time to partner up. You'll learn a heap faster. Trust me it won't be that long before you start seeing the commonalities in the techniques, often you can do 5 or 6 techniques in a class but have spent the whole time working on the one principal.