If you want to do without the overview, you need a workplace switcher on the panel. The Frippery Bottom Panel provides one choice. Other choices include the Workspace Indicator, which lists workspaces in a drop-down menu, and the Workspace Grid or Workspacebar. To any of these, you might want to add Workspace Monitor, which lists the windows open on the current workspace.
In theory, any of these workspace extensions can also be enhanced by Workspace Labels and Labeled Spaces. But in practice, neither is working as I write, although that might change by the time you experiment.
Besides the taskbar in Analog Clock on the Frippery Bottom Panel, you can install the icon-oriented Taskbar. Other items you might install include either the Message Notifier or Bigger Message Tray Center, and a variety of clocks similar to those available in GNOME 2, ranging from an Analog Clock and a Full Clock (that includes the date and week day) to Binary and Fuzzy clocks.
Many of the applets you used in GNOME 2 are available as extensions in GNOME 3. Battery Percentage Indicator, Removable Drive Menu, Trash, Window List—all these and more provide comparable, if not exact functionality to what GNOME 2 offered.
Even then, you may have only limited control over how far or which direction you can move the indicator. If you install Frippery Bottom Panel, you may not even have a say in which panel an indicator is placed. Such shortcomings are the most serious that you will encounter as you try to re-create GNOME 2.
Resurrecting GNOME 2 on top of GNOME 3 can be a time-consuming task. Not only do you have a choice of extensions for most features, but you may have to install additional extensions to make your choice work properly. Nor is there any guarantee that each of your choices will be compatible with the others if you stray outside the core extensions used in GNOME Classic.
Still, chances are that you will only need to make the effort once. In the end, you should be able to mimic at least 90 percent of GNOME 2's functionality. If the percentage is less, the reason could be that you have found an alternative you prefer over one of GNOME 2's features, such as the menu. That is one of the benefits of GNOME's series of extensions—you can configure in far more detail than you can with tools like GNOME TweakTool, coming as close or as far from GNOME 2 as you choose.
Once you are finished, download to the Installed extensions page of the extension and save it as part of your regular backup. A record of your choices will save you considerable time the next you set up a GNOME installation. Just because re-creating GNOME 2 is possible doesn't meant that you want to do it from scratch a second time.
In the end, one thing is clear: if you have shied away from GNOME because you preferred the second release series to the third, you no longer have any technical reason to do so.
Possibly, you may still nurse a grudge because of GNOME 3. However, by a careful selection of extensions, you can now make GNOME 3 comparable to Linux Mint's Cinnamon, combining your favorite style of interface with the latest GNOME code.