128Kbit mp3 from ten years ago do sound a lot worse than 128kbit encoded (latest lame) today. ( yes I still have some files from over ten years ago)
actually even quite a lot of 256/320kbit cbr mp3 from ten years ago doesn't sound as good as the latest 192 vbr v2 lame encoded files now. Most of the improvement is probably in the fine tuning of the pyscho acoustic model used + a better use of "joint stereo" technique to improve overall quality of the mp3 files.
Bottomline, I think we should be thankful for lame becoming the predominant encoder + the use of standardised templates for the improvement in mp3. 10 years ago mp3 were still being created using myrid of different mp3 encoders and our own estimate of what is the best settings to use for each bitrate.
Personally for me, lame vbr v0 or v2 is more than adequate for portable use. As for home use, I will stick to flac files since hard drives are so cheap now.