Been there since late 2015, can't say I caught many of the struggles before the progress the installment itself had gone through by the time I joined, however I do remember that we didn't even have wowhead to begin with. There was thottbot, and even though widely known, I still had to point it's existence on a daily basis to other players, so to alot of people (myself included) noting the other person hadn't read the quest felt weird cause how else would you do it? I remember I preferred to use thottbot mostly for trade good and profession knowledge rather than to questing as well, unless the quest was really difficult or too redundant. While quests felt like riddles at times that were fun to solve, they were easily memorable the more "burdening" they were in time, detail or difficulty, which made leveling my first (and only) alt a bit faster (albeit not easier). And the usage of addons like questie bypasses that "struggle" that is by itself extremely time-consuming.
Making dungeons wasn't the daily thing as well, I remember that while I was leveling I would add to my friend's list pretty much anyone who I had formed a group with to some extent of time, while questing mostly. And whenever I felt like I wanted to do a certain dungeon, due to finding quests about this place, I would check in that list if there were suitable candidates to help me out and start whispering.
These were people that I would frequently meet about in the world (due to having similar progression patterns), or that I simply invited to quest with even if they were far away and either person would travel over. This to say that, alot of the social aspect also added to the speed factor. I know there are players around who still play like this (I know I probably fail to some extent at going back to those old roots), but the trend of the min/max and progress focused gameplay is very common which also makes things go faster before you even start the game.
So yeah, the perception is definitely altered. Which logically alters the experience as well as how we feel progress. Not only from my personal PoV but for everyone who has played this game before really. Unless you've never played wow in your life, and do not make use of addons that facilitate those xp gains, will you take as much time to 60 now as you probably would if you were back at those times.
And the obvious point: Alot of websites (like thottbot and even wowhead) recorded the data necessary to contest any discrepancies between then and now, I think we would have seen something by now in the bug trackers about this.
TL;DR: Both the knowledge and the focus changed. So while the community of 1.13 is alot closer to the roots than retail's, the vast majority doesn't have the same stance as they used to back in the days, which made progress-facilitating addons a broader reality.