Sorry folks been busy for a while but I am back now!!
The mysql server had been absent on my desktop Debian box for long time now as I haven't been doing any web app development. A little time I took to set things the way I liked ( my standard development setup is disable mysql from listening on public TCP port and serve local database requests via sockets and use lighter start-when-you-need webserver instead of apache2 with all its crowning glory) I see that the skip-networking is not default for mysql-server package on debian (unstable/sid) anymore .
A look at the /etc/mysql/my.cnf from the package revealed the new defaults have indeed changed.
# Instead of skip-networking the default is now to listen only on # localhost which is more compatible and is not less secure. bind-address = 127.0.0.1