"Guitarists should be able to pick up the guitar and play music on it for an hour, without a rhythm section or anything." -
Technique is like the foundations of a building. It may take some time to develop, but all future progress depends on it. Without good basic technique your guitar playing can never sound really good no matter how much you practice. If you've seen a building going up, you might have noticed that clearing the ground and laying foundations is a process that can take some time, and in this time not a lot appears to be happening. Once the foundations are completed though, the building work can progress very quickly.
Similarly, once you acquire the basic skills of guitar playing, you can learn the different scales, licks etc without too much trouble. If the basics aren't sound, though, you're likely to hit a point beyond which you can't progress. You then have to go back and relearn the basics -