We show that shear is not the exclusive parameter that represents all aspects of flow structure effects on turbulence. Rather, wave-flow resonance enters turbulence regulation, both linearly and nonlinearly. Resonance suppresses the linear instability by wave absorption. Flow shear can weaken the resonance, and thus destabilize drift waves, in contrast to the near-universal conventional shear suppression paradigm. Furthermore, consideration of wave-flow resonance resolves the long-standing problem of how zonal flows (ZFs) saturate in the limit of weak or zero frictional drag, and also determines the ZF scale. We show that resonant vorticity mixing, which conserves potential enstrophy, enables ZF saturation in the absence of drag, and so is effective at regulating the Dimits up-shift regime. Vorticity mixing is incorporated as a nonlinear, self-regulation effect in an extended 0D predator-prey model of drift-ZF turbulence. This analysis determines the saturated ZF shear and shows that the mesoscopic ZF width scales as LZF∼f3/16(1−f)1/8ρs5/8l03/8 in the (relevant) adiabatic limit (i.e., τckk‖2D‖≫1). f is the fraction of turbulence energy coupled to ZF and l0 is the base state mixing length, absent ZF shears. We calculate and compare the stationary flow and turbulence level in frictionless, weakly frictional, and strongly frictional regimes. In the frictionless limit, the results differ significantly from conventionally quoted scalings derived for frictional regimes. To leading order, the flow is independent of turbulence intensity. The turbulence level scales as E∼(γL/εc)2, which indicates the extent of the “near-marginal” regime to be γL<εc, for the case of avalanche-induced profile variability. Here, εc is the rate of dissipation of potential enstrophy and γL is the characteristic linear growth rate of fluctuations. The implications for dynamics near marginality of the strong scaling of saturated E with γL are discussed.