I think it's important to understand how maya really works at the base level in order to do lots of troubleshooting and finding faster workflows.
I agree, this is very true, and the real reason behind the question.
for example, if i'm renaming an object (although I normally use the outliner) - what node would I choose in the AE? I would assume it's the shape nipple, but it seems it's the transform... unless I'm looking at things wrong...
also, the history is somehow connected to these 'nodes' insomuch as they appear in the AE too...?