You refer a screen shot but looks like its missed, can you add please.
From what I gather is - you want the lookup filter to be applied at the "design" time during the Service Request Definition creation (admin) process. If that is so, you are correct lookup filter do not apply during config - they apply at runtime in SelfService or Console.
I agree the list is somewhat limiting which can work on objects with less data, but for CIs, it sounds its going to be restrictive.
Please connect with support to check if they can help with an interim solution by configuring the desired values from the backend.
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You summarized the situation well, thank you for explaining the filters are only applied in the Console and Self Service portal.
I have found a simple workaround which will allow me to access the CIs needed amidst all the noise of the many CMDB records. It appears the items in the Values window display the most recently edited items at the top. In order to display the CI I need I simply find it in the CMDB, make a small change and save it, then come back to the Invoke Template screen and it appears at the top of the list so I can select it.
While this is an extra step it should address this situation going forward.
Wow this is really smart Chris - I am sure it will be helpful to others in similar situation. Thanks for sharing.