Police intelligence records stated that any future attempt to break-out a prisoner from custody would be "firearms enabled", an inquiry heard.
Jermaine Baker was shot dead by an armed officer during a foiled attempt to free an inmate from a prison van near Wood Green Crown Court in 2015.
The public inquiry into his death heard there had been an aborted attempt to free Izzet Eren two months before.
Kate Blackwell QC said the reference was "not helpful" to police planning.
Mr Baker, 28, who was from Tottenham, had been among a group of men who were trying to free Mr Eren from a prison van in north London on 11 December 2015.
The father-of-two was shot by a police marksman, known only as W80, as he sat in the front passenger seat of a stolen Audi while waiting for the van.
The armed officer previously stated he thought Mr Baker had been reaching for a gun.
However, no firearm was found apart from an imitation Uzi machine gun in the rear of the car.
Making her opening statement, counsel to the inquiry Ms Blackwell set out the stages of police planning which led up to Mr Baker's death.
She explained that following an aborted attempt to free Mr Eren from custody in October that year, police intelligence records stated that any future escape plan would be "firearms enabled".
Ms Baker told the inquiry that policing experts were "of the view that the use of the term was not helpful".
"It would have reinforced the view of all involved that those planning the escape attempt had access to some sort of firearm or firearms, which indeed they did have, but in addition that the firearms were live firearms, with the enabling ability to kill or cause serious injury," she said.
The inquiry also heard intelligence up to the morning of the shooting suggested the gang were having trouble sourcing a real gun and had failed to do so.
There was nothing to suggest those behind the plot were routinely armed, although the mastermind Ozcan Eren was said to sometimes carry a pistol with him for protection, the inquiry was told.
Serco staff in the van were also not told about the police plan and Mr Eren would have been raised from a category B prisoner to category A if they had known, Ms Baker said.
The inquiry, which is being held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in central London, continues.