All that has changed. I found that it is improving my chops when actually slowly but methodically going through a new song, scale, or chord progression. For example, I take a simple tune like Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". In the past, I would be satisfied with playing the basic chords and coming up with what I thought was the rhythm pattern. Instead, now I actually sat down and tried to figure out exactly how he played the song, using the correct mutes, chords, and licks. It made a world of difference, and as a result, I'm satisfied with the song when I play it.
So, from now on, I will choose not to rush through songs, but sit down and deliberately play the song, measure by measure, until I believe I'm as close to the original as possible. After that, then I can add my own flavor to the songs.