Back in Cataclysm, the world was a very different place. While the journey from 80 to 85 was certainly a little tiresome, with the obligatory travel through Deepholm bringing many a draenei to their oddly-shaped knees, once that achievement flashed across your screen you were home and dry.
Gearing a character for raiding was a predictable and straightforward task. Get a few bits and jump into the latest 5-mans, which were very easy and certainly achievable with PvP gear, as long as you were one of the classes that didn't do too badly from it. Preferably not a plate tank, then!
If you were adamant that cheaty PvP-based gearing wasn't for you, you could just run a few of the normals and earlier heroics, such as the Zul'roics or even the ones before, to get yourself geared to an acceptable level for the 4.3 heroics. What's more, your main could send your alts decent, current gear with their inevitable glut of valor points, and your justice points bought you the previous tier's gear.
Why the Cataclysm retrospective? As a reminder of how easy it was, in Cataclysm's twilight hours, to level and gear alts to a raid-ready level, or, for that matter, to a competitive PvP level. Quite apart from the ease, it was really the only thing left to do, after months upon months of Dragon Soul.