It is common in Litvak yeshivas to learn and appreciative the importance of the Rishonim medieval scholars and yet still to learn from the best of the Achronim [scholars after the Beit Yoseph and including the Beit Yoseph (Rav Joseph Karo)]. This is not to say the achronim were greater but rather there is something to learn from them.
One can learn the Musar (books of Ethics) of the Rishonim but still come out not understanding a thing until one gets to the Musar of the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter.
One can learn Gemara and Rishonim all day and still just not get it until one opens up Rav Shach's Avi Ezri. This happens to me all the time.