Yes. Also, there are multiple levels of internal skill. Extend ki/fire hose is working something real and worthwhile--but it's only a first step. Moving the other person through a connection "as if you were one unit", similarly, is worthwhile--but at best, it's a second step. The challenge for us is to move beyond these lower level concepts--when O-Sensei talked about Izanagi and Izanami, or the Floating Bridge of Heaven, he was pointing to skills far in advance of these. Aikido techniques work best as the manifestation of those skills. It's seductive to reduce them to matters of timing and "getting out of the way"--but that's the challenge.
I wouldn't call them lower-level concepts. Rather, I'd say that the "extend ki/fire hose" is a discrete tidbit that is disconnected from the greater and more sophisticated set of body wisdom that produces it. The person who is told how to imagine the fire hose, or picking up the tea tray and setting it down, etc., is only being given a small piece of a larger process, so while they may be able to do something unusual, they don't really understand what they have done. They don't understand what the underlying mechanism is.
It's not so much a first step, as a severed dead-end effect. Same with the "as if you were one unit" concept: it's also just the dog's tail, without the full process laid out. These things can be taught ad nauseum without ever showing the cohesive thread of body training that ties it all together as a method. The deeper explanatory philosophy is, of course, a whole 'nother level of understanding, but really at the outset, what the student really needs is as pragmatic, step-by-step course of training that builds a structured, connected/unified body along with the understanding of what that body is doing and how force and connection are managed.'