Getting the instant-on performance I expected out of Lion on my MBA

When Apple started working on 10.7 (Lion), I signed up for a developer account and installed every new developer build on my MacBook Air. (And then used it for production work, in flagrant disregard of Apple’s warnings.) When 10.7 was launched on the world, I was already running the release bits. And since then bunch of stuff I’m not supposed to talk about.
But there was a problem. Over the last few months, wake-from-sleep time was getting slower and slower. Reviewers were waxing lyrical about how an SSD MBA with Lion was “instant-on” when you opened the lid; for me it was 30-90 seconds. I wondered whether it was related to the fact that I run in 32-bit mode (I still have to use some brain-dead Cisco VPN drivers – and yes, I know about the workarounds, and no, they don’t apply to my situation.) But colleagues weren’t seeing those problems.
So yesterday I did a clean install. I backed up my stuff onto a USB drive; erased the SSD and reinstalled 10.6 (Snow Leopard) from the cute USB key that came with my MBA; brought 10.6 up to date with Software Update; installed the release version of 10.7 from the App Store; reinstalled Office 2011, iWork, OmniGraffle and all my other apps, and restored my home directory. Then I synced bookmarks, etc. via MobileMe, and applied the latest stuff I’m not allowed to talk about. Finally I flipped the system to boot in 32-bit mode and added in the accursed VPN crap.
And it all just worked. My MBA really is “instant-on” from sleep; when I open the lid, I see the password prompt before the lid is 45 degrees open. And the system feels much, much snappier. (And it was pretty snappy to start with.)