To me, this episode was always an inside joke. It was episode #80, one more than TOS. Crusher makes a comment along the lines of "you can't just erase people you've known for three years" -- referencing the original series' popularity well beyond its three-year run.
No, the episode the following week - "Legacy" - was episode 80. The writers recognized the significance of that and wrote a specific inside joke into Picard's log at the beginning of "Legacy:" he notes that the Enterprise is passing up a scheduled rendezvous with archaeologists on Camus II. Of course, it was on Camus II that Kirk found himself switching bodies with Janice Lester in the final episode of TOS.