The strenght of retrieving over assocation is to have the cached (edited) version of an object. Every retrieve over association will also perform a database retrieve, so if the cached version isn't required, I would recommend to directly retrieve from database when you need to traverse multiple associations, as this minimizes the number of retrieves.
However, if you do need the cached version, but don't need the in-between objects of associated entities, some useless retrieves are executed.
So for performance and usability, I would like to have a "Retrieve over association" functionality as single activity.
Agreed, it would also make micro-/nanoflows a lot cleaner!