Sgt_Kickaxe - 11:15 pm on Mar 5, 2012 (gmt 0)
There is a lot of over-thinking going on here(and I do appreciate that, all ideas remain on the table) so I tried to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It's apparent that Google has gotten better at evaluating what a page is about regardless of incoming links and I would be willing to wager that they now trust that evaluation process a lot more. If that's the case it would make sense to turn off incoming link text, e.g. anchor text, as a ranking factor.
It makes sense that once you can reliably understand what a page is about that you do not need other pages to tell you what they are about. From a search perspective the incoming link text CAN BE MANIPULATED and as such is/was probably high on the list of signals that cannot be trusted.
Just my 2 cents, I think relevancy of links and authority of site linking to you still play a major role but actual text has probably been replaced by something else, perhaps tone of content? If a page that links to you is positive or critical in nature is probably a better ranking factor, especially if Google places value on visitor experience(who wants to land on negative sites?), than anchor text but that's for another thread.