It's actually easier to shoot with a flash in manual or flash-controlled Auto using a digital camera since you can immediately see if your settings are working.
That said, using straight manual and Auto flash really deprives you of the nicest advances in flash technology. I despise the harsh lighting of a flash-dominated exposure. Slow sync exposures look much better and it's much easier to shoot slow sync in TTL mode. TTL is the only way you're going to benefit from the D series lenses providing the camera distance information. It's a shame that Nikon has so many issues regarding Speedlights on their DSLR bodies. I think they should drop this move to DX which is really a less desireable workaround to a problem of metering off the ccd. DX sets the exposure during a preflash cyle so if something changes during the actual exposure the camera won't compensate.