Well, the combat system of D&D, despite significant changes over the years, has always been designed to support that story (even 4th ed, in its own way). I'm not sure it's even possible to change it in a way to make attrition less important while still allowing that play style, and if it is, it would feel like a very different game to me. Maybe too different.But if you're just throwing in some hobgoblins to fight there's a story reason for it isn't there? If it's just a random battle with hobgoblins what's the point? Unless, like I said, you're playing a dungeon crawl game where the attrition is the point - then the random battles are part of the story. The story of a hardscrabble group of adventurers who are trying to survive a dungeon complex to gather treasure or fight some foe supports random battles and requires attrition as a motivating factor for taking decisions. It may or may not be a very deep story, but dungeon survival is a great collaborative story that D&D supports well.
Once you get outside of that kind of survival story, the D&D attrition model makes a lot less sense to the game. Which is where the arguments about the 5 minute workday come into play - adventurers in a survival story can't have a 5 minute workday, while adventures in other fantasy situations can often easily do so.