Some of the AE shell is covered with more cream than others, I'd say 1 in 3 or 4 have been just buried in it like you describe. Above is what works for me. As soon as your done cleaning the shoe with Renaveutor don't forget the first step of the Mac method is to use a damp rag and wipe down the shoe. I agree it is hard to get a good shine on cream LOL and I have some that you could actually see brush marks on the surface it was so thick. But once you get it off the Mac method does work. My AE shell shines and glows just as well as my Alden now.
The cheapest place for bulk Microfiber cloths that I have found is Amazon under Amazon Basics. If you spend over $25 it is free shipping so I get the 48 pack which is ~$28
Good luck the results are more than worth the work to clean them IMO.
If the cream is a treatment by Horween or AE, presumably to condition, protect, and extend the life of the shell, wouldn't it behoove us to keep it stock rather than strip it for a shine?
New Shell Owner [with another (Leeds) enroute]