I think your starch and then mark technique sounds like a very smart idea. I don't generally starch before sewing, but on the kind of sewing I do, that wouldn't be what I'd think of either. I'll put that in the 'toolbox' for future use. I do have starch, so I'm ready.
I've had the same experience you have with various markers. They'll come out just great many times, and then the next time, there's something different about the fabric or who knows what, and it won't come out, or will reappear later.
That's really annoying. I've completely given up on a lot of marking methods unless it's in a spot where it won't show at all. Luckily, I can often use a pin, and keep my eye on the hole it made until I get my needle in it. Low tech, but no-show, although not too helpful for quilting, etc.
I think that's why there are so many markers and ideas; you just never know which one is going to be perfect for the next