This was indeed the best replacement for Norman.
Someone picks up his legacy, but is more of a thinker and is careful about studying all of Osborn's secrets including the goblin serum so that he avoids osborns' errors.
The only regret or sad part of this is that Stern left the book before unmasking his creation, thus leading Marvel to do the Ned Leeds junk.
Hobgoblin's use of dupes was both cool and infuriating. It was cool because it made so much sense. Why put yourself in danger when you can put Lefty Donovan, Ned Leeds or Flash Thompson in the crosshairs? It makes perfect sense for the smart, sophisticated super-villain. However, it's so unsatisfying when you know it's a second-rate Hobgoblin. On the other hand, this helped make issues like ASM 249,250 & 251 so great, when there was a Spidey vs real Hobgoblin showdown!