As long as the AI doesn't use it's hyper task assigment speed to destroy you before you had a chance to build half a decent base.
I disagree with that; with the exception of "easy" AI settings, they should build their base as fast as possible. With respect to BFME (especially #2) the AI had extreme cheating going on in the background, so it wasn't that it had fast reflexes, it was actually cheating to build its structures faster than you can build your's. As a result, that's a bad counter-example.
What I will say is that the early-game preparations are an absolutely critical part of your game plan. The AI may pull its punches, but I certainly won't. If it delays building its army, I will efficiently prepare my own and annihilate it before it gets around to catching up to me. I've seen many AI's reduced to pathetic fodder because they delay building their armies and I simply waltz in with a few units and severely damage their infrastructure. Unless we're talking about easy difficulty, it's simply basic technique that it establish a working economy and army as quickly as possible.