In The Return's defense, I would point out that it was written before Star Trek: First Contact changed the way the Borg were presented so back then a connection between the Borg and V'ger wouldn't have been as far-fetched, especially since The Return made the connection through a different branch of the Borg that assimilated through using energy patterns.
No, it was exactly as far-fetched from the beginning. Both the points I made -- V'Ger being uninterested in organic life and its technology being immensely beyond the Borg's -- are just as applicable to the pre-FC Borg. Indeed, the technology point is even more applicable to the pre-FC Borg, which hadn't yet been retconned as using nanotechology and whose tech looked even cruder and clunkier than it did later on.
And the whole "different branch of the Borg" thing is basically a tacit admission that they don't really resemble each other at all and that it's an enormous reach to connect them. Honestly, I don't know why The Return
even bothered to refer to V'Ger at all. I don't see what it added to the story.