Signal Chain regarding Vol. Automation

In the manual on pg. 399 it explains the signal chain, but not entirely.
I was hoping someone could clarify please.
My understanding is as follows:

Input gain --> Ins 1-6 --> Channel Strip --> Sends --> EQ --> Fader --> Ins. 7 & 8 --> signal out to where ever it has been routed by the user.
(and you can choose to put the channel strip before inserts 1-6 with the little button next to it in edit channel settings)

Have I got that mapped correctly?

So if I wanted to automate the volume of a vocal track and I had 2 different compressors in my signal chain at inserts 2 and 6 respectively, how could I automate the volume so that it was automated before it hit the 2 compressors?
(Let’s say for this example that slots 7 & 8 are being used for other purposes)
Would the way forward here be to automate the volume, without the compressors in the chain and then send it to a group track where the compressors could then be placed, then off to the vocal bus, then to the master bus etc?
Or is there another way that does not involve creating a seperate group track?

You could automate any other plugins volume in slot 1 and 5. There are plugins just for gain staging - but don’t know Cubase stock stuff.
Waves PAZ series has one with just a meter and volume knob.

So drop post fader automation for this purpose maybe.
Have not checked if pre-gain is a parameter that can be automated - but would certainly be useful for your purposes.

But either clip can also be altered with clip gain and such.
So another option depending on what you intend to do.