You explained it perfectly
What I am talking about with the align remaining as active is not about grouping it is about scripting or creating dynamic content. With this feature when the internal items change size or shape the align in re-applied and a complex object can be built.
Here is a great example. If you were to dig into these objects you would find that there are many aligns inside that are still active so the compound object can be resized.
And here is an animation of the aligns holding the design together as I change things.
You can see in the tree view there are lots of 'un-applied' aligns in there.
I do think there is a "power of the and" here where it could do what you expect and still be available for scripting.