This changed 6-12 months ago. At some point, GMail's "Starred First" and "Starred" mail views started sorting conversations by the most recently starred email. This means that new replies to old starred conversations can entirely miss my attention, because they show up on page two (or further back). How can I avoid/fix this?
Good question I must say, As i know you can make seperate tab for your all starred contacts so that you wont be missing any mails replies from these contacts there is one option to mark them as colored stars each star has its own priority and usage. The complete idea is in this site please refer this, these are 10 tricks to use gmail. tricks
I have seen your long discussion in Google product forum here and you didn't got your answer, so what it means is you really needs to switch unread first at least you will not be missing unread emails. stop using starred messages, even I tried but Google developer unfortunately totally missed it.
Lastly I will say one thing is "You can't accomplish the feature which is not built in app". You have to wait untill google developers really think on it or until they come across such problem. but one thing is clear by looking at your discussion the feature is not included in gmail.:-(. Anyway good catch. Hope you will get your answer soon. Good day.
If you hover over the Inbox button in gmail, it will give you a drop down arrow. You need to change this from "Stared First" to "Unread First". This will still reserve your conversations, and they will just pop to the top of the list when someone replies. Just look for the stars to see the important one, or add flags to add more organization to different types of contacts.
All of the read conversations will be in a separate section called "Everything Else"