I agree with your first posting Chris, this is why I read the teachings of O-sensei, and research all I can about Aikido. It's Do, not a Jutsu, so obviously there's more to it than the techniques alone, as otherwise it's just faster to learn Daito-ryu.
Now, by reading what O-sensei wrote on his teachings, I can understand how the uchi-deshi's felt. In the best of circumstances (coffee, comfy chair, warm) all I feel is confusion. In the freezing cold while sitting at seiza will mean I would basically absorb close to zero. This is the reason why Shioda Gozo-sensei codified the teachings of Yoshinkan: he felt so confused with how O-sensei taught that he realized the future students of Aikido isn't gonna be able to follow the teachings properly unless he made a solid progressional system.
I still read those teachings left behind by O-sensei, and I strongly encourage those that have studied with O-sensei to pass down as much of his knowledge as possible so that we can preserve his knowledge, even if we can no longer preserve his skills. I don't understand it now, and maybe I never will understand the majority of what I read. But what I read, I remember in hopes that one day, perhaps during meditation, during training, or when I'm fighting off a knife wielding thug, I will get that moment of profound revelation, just as O-sensei had, and I will recall what O-sensei said with clarity and understanding. Then, if I do recieve such blessings, I would strive to teach what I felt to my own students, in hopes that it gets passed down into the future. This is all O-sensei asked for after all: a world of peace through AIkido. It doesn't matter if we can't fight off ten people, Ueshiba-sensie would rather we learn to make ten friends.
Yes, I think that Shioda had the same difficulties - he eventually had to go outside to get explanations of what he had already been taught.
I hope to talk about it more in the future, but I think that it would be a mistake to take the things that Ueshiba said and wrote as purely philosophical or spiritual, but more on that later.
Personally, I didn't find Daito-ryu any faster than anything else, but that may just be a function of my limited learning capacity.