I don't know what the following has to do with the latest twist in the discussion, but I noticed something with cookies the past couple of days.
As I've been tracking phrases for niches other than mine, I clear my cookies before each search. Last week I'd build up a maximum of 50+ cookies from Google after every other search. This is without going to any of the pages in the results. For example, search #1 would build up 2 or 3 cookies after having been cleared before the search. Then search #2 would build up 50+ cookies, which I'd clear. Search #3 would build up 2 or 3 again.
Over the weekend the maximum number of cookies cleared after every search dropped to 25-30. Today the number is 60+.
I don't know what the extra cookies are doing, but I'd guess they're trying to track something Google wasn't interested in last week.