That the process itself is selfless is something i agree with, but the conclusions you are building on it can be misleading. The process might be itself selfless but it manifests itself as a self, and that does not make the self any less real. The self is what we know regardless of how it came about, and what we know is what shapes our state of mind.
Just think if i lie to you and tell you that one of your relatives passed away. If you believe me, you will suffer, regardless if the knowledge i put in your mind corresponds to reality or not. The opposite can be true, if one of your relatives passed away and you don't know about it you wont suffer.
The self precedes all knowledge, without it, knowledge as we know it seems impossible, and this is where the paradox lies. In the practice, we are suppose to have knowledge that eliminates self view, but knowledge itself begets self view. And everything you have been saying so far serves only to avoid the paradox instead of acknowledging it.
There is a little trick. If there would be no little trick, everybody would know it already or get it by themselves somehow with no need for the long, 1500 pag of higher dhamma present in SN. (chapter 2,3, and half of chapter 4) If the little trick would be super short and easy to explain in 1 message, all would have eliminated self-view already. To understand this little trick, it takes some long reading and some long contemplation, it takes looking at things from a different angle, an angle one has not looked from before. By looking from the same angle, things will look just like before and there will be no insight arising. The little trick can't simply be told directly, it first requires one to see conditionality in every detail, it requires the understanding in detail of how the aggregates work, etc. There would not be 1500 pag of higher dhamma if only a single page could do it. If we look in the suttas, most people did it in a couple of days but some took months to do, and that was with a wise man like the Buddha explaining it in person.
But to try to answer ur questions and hint at the little trick: No, there is nothing matifesting itself as a self. There really was never any self to begin with, just the opinion that there is a self. A simple opinion, a wrong opinion same as "the world is flat". The argument that "the world is flat is the only thing we ever knew so we might as well go along like the world would really be flat. For us, the world is flat, regardless of how that came about and what we know shapes our state of mind" - this kind of argument is not a good one.
There is no self preceding all knowledge, same as there is no self of a computer preceding all knowledge avaliable to the computer. There is simply knowledge without a self behind it, same as in the example with animals and babies where there is just suffering arising with no-one suffering. There exists knowledge in computers, in animals, in babies without a self behind it all, same for adult humans only that there is a distorted perception making it look like there is a self.
Imagine this situation: There is an computer/machine/organism made out of different aggregates, be it metal or plastic, perception or form, etc. It is as selfless as a computer, empty of a self just like a machine. There are just the things that make it up but no self inside. It's made out of 5 aggregates: form, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness - these are like the metal and plastic and software of a computer. The software of a computer is something immaterial, but still it is a simple element making it up. In the same way, consciousness or perception is something immaterial, but it's just an element part of the selfless machine.
But because of the way these aggregates are assembled, there might arise a particular point a perception. At 22:47, there might arise the perception, the feeling that "I am suffering" or "I am happy" or "this is me, this is mine" etc. etc. etc. In a selfless machine, a particular feeling/thought/perception arises at 22:47 due to conditions, same as an antivirus alert window might pup up on a computer due to conditions at 22:47.
Because there is lack of knowledge in the machine, lack of information, this feeling that arises at 22:47 causes another thought to arise. Since there appeared the feeling that "I am suffering" at 22:47, conditioned by this feeling, there will appear the thought "this means that there is a self, otherwise why would such a feeling appear ? If there would be no self, how could such a feeling that there is a self appear ?". This is a natural reaction, a natural development for the machine because there simply is no better information inside it. If there would be better information, this thought would not appear. But, with the information the machine has at the moment, this is the only output the machine can give to such a phenomenon arising, it's the only thing that makes sense with so little information avaliable to the machine, the only conclusion it can draw.
Based on conditions, a feeling/thought/perception might appear at 22:47 --- "I am suffering" or "I am happy". This then goes on to condition the arising of another thought that "there is a self, otherwise why would this feeling that there is one appear ?". The conditions that gave rise to that feeling are impermanent, they can not be self. The feeling that arised at 22:47 is itself impermanent, that feeling can not be oneself. The thought that there is a self arising 2 minutes later is also impermanent, it can not be self. There is no self in them, there is no self beneath them, there is no self watching them all. There are just these feelings, thoughts, perceptions arising depending on conditions same as a window pops up on a computer due to the software, to the hardware that sustains the software, etc.
But why did this feeling that "I am suffering, I am happy, etc." arise in the first place if there is no self ? What is the condition for that ? Well the condition is conceit. The existence of the conceit tendency is conditioning such a feeling to arise, and then this feeling goes on to give rise to the opinion that there is a self. What is happening at that moment at 22:47 is a meeting of many conditions (necessary human inteligence, reading something about that idea somewhere on the internet at 22:46, etc.) + the tendency for conceit existing in that machine. The meeting of all these is causing that feeling to arise. The lack of information about why that feeling actually arose at 22:47 is causing the opinion that there is a self to arrise at 22:49.
In a machine, there might be a tendency toward pleasure, or laziness, or anger etc. developed over time in the past. The existence of this might cause a certain reaction when met with a certain stimulus. In the same way, the existence of conceit and the existence of ignorance (lack of infomation) will cause a certain reaction in the machine when a certain stimulus will appear. What this tendency for conceit is, is a little hard to perfectly explain. It is a tendency same as the tendency for anger, laziness etc.
All this explanation is very technical and not too helpful at all. Buddha did not explain things like this, he explained in a way leading the person to see this, he explained from a certain angle, making the person look from a suitable angle. And he was also very good at doing this. For example he kept repeating how "this is impermanent, this is impermanent" or repeating things about conditionality. He would have written that about 10 times if writing a post like this. It's not to make the person know they are impermanent, cause the person probably knew already and did not need it repeated 100 times from 100 different angles. But contemplating things from every one of those angles, contemplating conditionality of every little thing, impermanence of every little thing from every little angle of looking etc. - this is what leads to person to see it. That is actually what makes one see it much better than technical explanations which are present too in the higher dhamma but they are not the only thing written in there. And this is why the higher dhamma section has 1500 pag and nothing there is repetitive. It just takes contemplating the things written in there, contemplating from all those angles until "evrika". The little trick is not necessarily rocket science in terms of difficulty, it just that it takes contemplation from angles one has not looked from before. The trick is not because of difficulty, the trick is because being about feelings/perceptions/thoughts etc. - it's tricky because it requires a certain angle of contemplating it. The problem comes from a distorted perception and lack of information.