You don't lose the ability if you're moving the original, and TC does give you warnings like "use update compound profile" if you're doing that, it's copies that lose the associations. It's more usual that, if you want to have parent/child relationships between original and copies, you use blocks. I'm not with TC right now, but I think that block copies can be exploded and their associations recovered. If that's so, you could create progressive iterations using blocks as the copy medium. Otherwise, facet editor, imprint, quick pull and tweak face are TC's direct editing means that don't rely on original generators.
It's also worth stipulating "keep undo buffer" with files, so you've got the potential to undo up to 100 operations, because you can export an object as its own discrete file, undo back to as far as you need to go, create a copy using the make copy option, import the standalone object that you exported earlier and use it to locate the copy if you haven't some other means. Sounds long-winded, but everything becomes second nature if you practice it enough.