I think because cider (mead and wine too) are all simple sugars, there is much less stress on yeast. I've heard wine makers say they "grow yeast" for the first several days of fermentation. The Moonlight Meadery guy at NHC said the same. And I've never heard of a cidermaker making a starter (unless they were trying to apply brewing knowledge to cidermaking).
But if I did make one, I'd use apple juice from the store and nutrients. And if the vial is old, I might do it - not to grow cells, but just to build up their health.