I went back to my old 2 blade Gillette from the 4 or 5 blade versions I think which is called the fusion (I've lost count now). Honestly, it gives me the exact quality of shave than the more expensive newer models and actually does a better job above the lip and under the nose because the blade is not as wide. No, it does not have the trimmer attachement on the blade but those don't work that well anyways. I get less frequent skin irritation from the two blade version and are cheaper to replace and last just as long. Even buying in bulk from costco the Fusion blades are still expensive.
I just did the same thing. Went back to the 3-blade Mach3, from the 5-blade fusion after I found I was out of cartridges, but discovered two unused ones left over from the older razor. That was a wake-up, and not in the same way as you found. The Mach3 provided a horrible shave, and I remembered why I stayed with the Fusion.
So I figured I should get a refill for the 5-blade system. When I went looking on Amazon I found there was an even newer Fusion Proglide (Manual, I absolutely will not buy the "Power" vibrating razor). Which still works on the normal Fusion handle (but I got a new one anyway). One thing I noticed about the original Fusion is that is pulls itself into your face as you shave. That never bothered me, it was just different, but when the blade dull they get really grabby.
The new Fusion Proglide doesn't pull at all, it's just smooth, and clears two days worth of growth in one pass (still make repeated strokes out of habit, but I'm trying to unlearn that). I can still the first cartridge is starting to dull, but it is still passable, unlike the old models which went from good to bad in one shave, and unusable in the next.
I don't have a lot of experience with different blade systems. Going from Bic disposables from when I first started shaving to the Mach3 when I went away to collage, to the Fusion a few years ago. Also used Remington electrics on and off during that whole time. But I can say the Fusion Proglide really does provide the best shave I've ever had (even tops the electric).