Thanks, aristotle. I hear what you are saying but I don't know if we can simply ignore the manual part of the disavow list processing, as stated by G themselves:
Q: If I upload a file, do I still need to file a reconsideration request? A: Yes ...
Nothing in the quote suggests that the algo will ignore the links next time they process them without someone at Google looking at it first (how in the world was this supposed to scale to Google's size, I wonder?) . They also don't say anything about rankings as such, they only talk about these links in the context of a penalty (and manual at that). In other words, I understood it so that without a penalty it makes no sense to send a disavow list as it will probably be simply ignored. Otherwise they would be mired in millions of disavow list submissions by webmasters trying to clean their link profiles to get an edge over competitors.
And that's what confuses me in the result I got: I do know for certain that there is a penalty, or at least was back in Sept. 2012 when they last responded with "Still violates" to my last RR before this one.
There's probably something in the particular case that makes it so confusing (to me, anyway). I was just wondering if one can simply tell if the disavow list was looked at, and it looks like there's not way to tell that.