.... watch sensei closely, and see what he or she does even before the technique starts that facilitates getting the desired technique to work even on strong people. We might not all be at that level yet, but it doesn't hurt to start early.
Brilliant! Yes, this! My sensei sometimes advises students to "start earlier you think you have to" - meaning, when it's done properly, there are things going on very early that are essential to the eventual technique. But to get that, as you say, you have to watch early, too.