@jeremyx98 I'm kind of the opposite of you. I do have tons of tabs open and I do use instant search a lot. However, overall from my perspective, Opera was optimum in usability about three years ago and then went backwards.
But there was a time, as they were fiddling with this feature where you could customise it to do something like what you are describing or the tab search. And I think you could also fiddle around with the background config settings.
I'm not happy with the current instant search implementation, as it does both page content and tab titles and I pretty much 100% want just tab titles. It made the operation very fast for me, as it would only pop up a few hits and I could select the right one very quickly. Now I have to type more and/or pause to select what I want.
Similar here was the old vertical Ctrl+Tab behaviour with full page preview. easy to select the right one. In fact this was one of the final features that got me to switch from Firefox's brain-dead horizontal cycler. Then Opera did the same! 😞
Anyway, it's generally really annoying when they remove features you were used to and replace them with inferior substitutes. But, it's subjective, which is why we need customisation.
However, all the software vendors are guilty of this!