It doesn't matter if you end up using this all the way- hell I do it myself, by removing the element of surprise all you need now is just the pure skill to overcome the bosses. Once you gain that confidence everything would fall into place.
Not quite, but pretty close. A lot of that has to do with Oda taking a lot of breaks due to illness though, but it seems that has passed just recently. Not to mention I think it's just a longer arc in general.