Good article, as usual. Stick-and-rudder skills deteriorate quickly so they need to be maintained on a routine basis. It might be awkward to discover that hasn't been done in the midst of a snafu where the automation has to be put aside.
Yup, when in doubt, turn it off. The Bus is like that but the "kicker" for that airplane is that you have to turn off BOTH Flight Directors to make it a basic airplane. The Bus logic is always looking for "programing" input as might be displayed and supplied by a flight director. As long as at least one of them is on the FMS and Autopilot will answer what is programmed into that box if the FD says fly up and you are trying to land it really messes things up.
The way to get all the black boxes out of the way is to "click of the autopilot", "click off the auto-thrust"- (match and mash), and turn off both FD's otherwise bad stuff will continue to happen. We do this drill in the simulator with pure visual approaches and strong crosswind landings in the most basic modes each training session just to review how to get the automation out of the way. It still flies like a basic airplane if you get rid of the magic.
The company is encouraging it more and more on the line.