The second part is easiest to answer: No, it didn't. Even wearing the entirely wrong set of shoulders, chest armour and two trinkets didn't lead to impossible quests, unbeatable mobs and lots of quiet crying. In fact, this was the fastest character I ever leveled to 80.
2 days and 22 hours isn't all bad. Most of the time was taken up by getting mining and flowerpicking to high levels anyway. I don't like moving through the outlands without being able to grab everything harvestable on the floor. Obviously, starting at 55 does give a tad of a boost there.
(image taken from here - just in case you want to buy one now)
Now, how was progress up to 80, though? Pretty much the same as I've posted about before. I got mostly comments on the robe, very occasionally on the matching shoulders. No one in all the leveling ever commented on the "spellpower/restore mana on kill" trinkets. Two of them. Most of the time I didn't really get around to spouting some nonesense about how much I prefered the colour and the cut and a fresh breeze around my undead privates - some other member of the party would usually speak up and say something like "Oh, it's all about the experience bonus". A shame really.
I met some oddities on the way to Northrend as well. Like this druid who, err, apparently had bought his account. Now I'm not about to fling that accusation around randomly, but there are a few hints.
Let me post a picture to clarify:
This is a level 80 druid (and to the best of my knowledge it is not actually possible to level to 80 in the old lands), who has at least some Icecrown Citadel faction and has actually been inside. Yet, the boat to Northrend was a new discovery. Sure, there are a few possible solutions - the player could have leveled entirely through the dungeon finder and always been summoned to ICC. The player could have taken the boat from Menethil Harbour and never actually set foot in Stormwind Harbour. It did all sound very fishy, though. More fishy than the normal harbour smell.
(image taken from here)
Right. Back on topic, though. Hostility even through the Northrend instances was actually low. I didn't once get kicked from a group (although proper dps probably played a role) and there were only two people that were remarkable in the whole experiment. Let me show you the details:
The usual reply to "why are you wearing a robe" apparently prompted a comment on my sexual orientation. I assume this just shows that around 11.12 in the mornings too many teenagers are online. Odd, though.
Note the other party member once again coming to my defence for no good reason at all. Just explaining that this is a perfectly accetable set, apparently. Or maybe that's just Lightbringer *suspicious of the server, suddenly, nodnod*.
More along the lines of what I had expected was this masterpiece of conversation. Here I was in the middle of explaining to him that he didn't even notice the spellpower trinkets and he threatened real life physical violence. Interesting. I have not had that before. And on my very own server, too. With a very cunningly chosen name - although I can hardly complain about that now, can I?
So ... it all came to a close near the end. I did actually reach level 80. I wanted to do one last thing before grabbing a fresh mining pick and settling down to wait for Cataclysm. One Northrend Heroic. Any of them. Really - I wasn't picky.
Unfortunately the problems were not players - it was the bloody game itself.
Apparently my leveling gear was too bad to even try a heroic. Any of them. Utgarde Keep was out. Seriously?
Oh well... a little bit of shopping made it all work out in the end. I had to buy a few green rings of the auctionhouse and craft boots, belt and gloves of the iLevel 187 pvp set.
Upped my Gearscore immensely, too.
Which finally got me an instance. Heroic Drak'tharon Keep - my personal Oculus. I hate the instance and I get it a lot more than anything else.
The party took almost all the way to Trollgore before the commenting started - and it then held on a little. A bit more hostile than previously - but still not really bad. Spinks and Poek (in the comments) had apparently a lot worse happen to them in normal groups.
There were even sensible suggestions on how to improve the gear. Not entirely friendly - and certainly not what a real noob would deserve - but not horrid.
And hey - for the first time since I started this project I was not actually at the top of the epeen-meters.
Look ... just barely above the tank.