A large number of multiscale finite-volume methods have been developed over the past decade to compute conservative approximations to multiphase flow problems in heterogeneous porous media. In particular, several iterative and algebraic multiscale frameworks that seek to reduce the fine-scale residual towards machine precision have been presented. Common for all such methods is that they rely on a compatible primal–dual coarse partition, which makes it challenging to extend them to stratigraphic and unstructured grids. Herein, we propose a general idea for how one can formulate multiscale finite-volume methods using only a primal coarse partition. To this end, we use two key ingredients that are computed numerically: (i) elementary functions that correspond to flow solutions used in transmissibility upscaling, and (ii) partition-of-unity functions used to combine elementary functions into basis functions. We exemplify the idea by deriving a multiscale two-point flux-approximation (MsTPFA) method, which is robust with regards to strong heterogeneities in the permeability field and can easily handle general grids with unstructured fine- and coarse-scale connections. The method can easily be adapted to arbitrary levels of coarsening, and can be used both as a standalone solver and as a preconditioner. Several numerical experiments are presented to demonstrate that the MsTPFA method can be used to solve elliptic pressure problems on a wide variety of geological models in a robust and efficient manner.