Your experiment sounds great! I would suggest mixing up a small batch of lean dough with a medium consistency (soft but not overly sticky) just until there are no dry spots, then divide it in half. For the “less kneading” half, set it aside to autolyse for 30-60 min, then do a series of stretch and folds every half hour or hour until the dough holds its shape well and feels elastic, this might take 3-5 folds. For the “more kneading” half, knead without autolysing for a good ten minutes, then leave it undisturbed for rising, doing just one fold or punch down at the end of rising, before shaping.
I was thinking more along the lines of comparing a few loaves that had been kneaded for different amounts of time, just to see if the only technique I altered, time spent kneading (before the 20 minute mark that you mentioned), was actually noticeable in taste. (If the differences were really stark, I might notice a change in color as the flour bleached.) Your suggestion sounds like a good idea too!