Much of modern algebraic number theory can be phrased in the framework of group cohomology. (Okay, this is a bit of a stretch -- much of the part of algebraic number theory that I'm interested in...). As examples, Cornell and Rosen develop basically all of genus theory from cohomological point of view, a significant chunk of class field theory is encoded as a very elegant statement about a cup product in the Tate cohomology of the formation module, and Neukirch-Schmidt-Wingberg's fantastic tome "Cohomology of Number Fields" convincingly shows that cohomology is the principal beacon we have to shine light on prescribed-ramification Galois groups.
Of course, we also know that group cohomology can be studied via topological methods via the (topological) group's classifying space. My question is:
Question: Why doesn't this actually happen?
More elaborately: I'm fairly well-acquainted with the "Galois cohomology for number theory" literature, and not once have I come across an argument that passes to the classifying space to use a slick topological trick for a cohomological argument or computation (though I'd love to be enlightened). On the other hand, for example, are things like Tyler's answer to my question
which strikes me as saying that there may be plenty of opportunities to carry over interesting constructions and/or lines of reasoning from the topological side to the number-theoretic one.
Maybe the classifying spaces for gigantic profinite groups are too hideous to think about? (Though there's plenty of interesting Galois cohomology going on for finite Galois groups...). Or maybe I'm just ignorant to the history, and that indeed the topological viewpoint guided the development of group cohomology and was so fantastically successful at setting up a good theory (definition of differentials, cup/Massey products, spectral sequences, etc.) that the setup and proofs could be recast entirely without reference to the original topological arguments?
(Edit: This apparently is indeed the case. In a comment, Richard Borcherds gives the link http://projecteuclid.org/DPubS?service=UI&version=1.0&verb=Display&handle=euclid.bams/1183537593 and JS Milne suggests MacLane 1978 (Origins of the cohomology of groups. Enseign. Math. (2) 24 (1978), no. 1-2, 1--29. MR0497280)., both of which look like good reads.)