If I were to guess I believe that Mike would have called it an ideal routine because at the time he felt that it was the ideal routine. He was entitled to change his mind on the routine but once a name is out, it′s out.
For the most part I find your post reasonable but lately I have been questioning the weakest link principle.
I do the Nautilus Decline press. I used to perform it after the Nautilus chest. The idea was that in the compound exercise, the chest would be hit with stronger triceps muscles fully exhausting the chest. But what about the triceps? Unless you perform a direct set for triceps then they never work very hard.
After the chest set I was doing around 140-150 lbs on the decline. Now I do 192.5 lbs and I really feel my chest more than my triceps. This could be that my chest is working the hardest and still is the weakest link not necessarily my triceps. My triceps now see a much higher load and it is therefore a stronger triceps exercise too.
This could explain why so many don′t like isolation exercises. If you do pre-exhaust exercises and the only exercises you do for your arms is part of that set then when are your arms working intensely?
I think that the problem may have started because of free weights. By this I mean that the arms probably are the weak link in a bench press. But in the Nautilus machines the decline press exercise follows the function of the pecs very well. Also as there is a strength curve to the machine this means that there may not be as much of a weak link problem as there was before.
Pre-exhaust also explains why so many believe that they get much stronger in consolidation and are so dead against direct exercise. I easily added weight to the press since performing it on its own. This doesn′t mean that I am full value for the increase in strength. It just means that the chest muscles are rested. Am I stronger in the press by 40 to 50 lbs, I seriously doubt it! Again I always come back to how you measure improvement.
For myself I appear to be somewhere inbetween the ideal and consolidated routines. I personally see several steps in going from one to the other.