yes, i find it interesting how the NEC defines protection in given situations. We tend to think in fixed numbers for conductors, yet this is frequently not so. The original Q eluded to just how far one can fanegal this in the NEC
Also the 'tap rules' as they are know, are not only to be smaller wires 'tapped' into larger wires, but also smaller wires directly introduced to larger OCPD's
This , although the end result is the same, creates a little focus on the definitional aspects of the practice.
The only guidance in those terms i have found is 240-3(e)
I just thought i'd throw it out for the BB's thoughts