It is said that the ancient custom in Alexandria was for the 12 presbyters to select one of their own to become the bishop, and would then lay hands on them.
This reflects the earlier mindset. A local church, that is the gathering of the Orthodox Church in a city, had a council of elders, and that council had a president. In the NT the term elder and overseer was confused. Over time, it came to be convention that elder (presbyter) was applied to the members of the council of elders besides the president, and overseer (episcopos, bishop) was applied to the president. They were all elders, but the overseer was the one of the elders who was the pastor of the congregation, represented them in meetings with neighbouring local churches, and had the authority to ordain more elders.
Also, these clergymen were not considered distinct from the laity, the people. They are people. They are members of the church. They are just the members of the church set aside to a role of service in that community.
In this situation, perhaps it is the case that in earlier times when the bishop reposed, the presbyters laid hands on one of their own and set them aside to serve as the president of the elders, the overseers. Or maybe this is just a fable and never happened, and it was always neighbouring overseers who laid hands on the choice of the presbyters. It's certainly hard to know what happened at this point.
In any case, it seems irrelevant to the question of whether this practice places weight on the position of presbyter... everything said about the presbyter can be said about the bishop. A father is only a father if they have children. A bishop is the member of a community set aside to shepherd that community. The canons absolutely forbid them from going and serving in another church (diocese) besides the one they were ordained for. If the bishop fell away from their community, they would no longer be a bishop in any real sense: what is an overseer without people to oversee? They can't just got set up another church in schism. This whole idea of ordaining other bishops and setting up a rival church is silly. A bishop was ordained by bishops in communion, to serve a community. If they leave that community they're gone. A schism really happens when a bishop leaves the communion with their people... Again, if a bishop who has fallen away from their community is restored, they can be accepted back without being reordained, since they have already been set aside... Still, it is Christ who is the priest, and the bishop who images Him to the people. The original symbolism seems to be not the bishop as the successor (often today taken to mean equivalent) of the apostle: but the bishop images Christ in the Liturgy, and the presbyters standing around him image the Apostles surrounding Christ. (this is why I don't like the innovation in St. Gregory's Liturgy of addressing the Son rather than the Father... The bishop [or in his absence, the presbyter acting in his stead] images Christ, addressing the Father... having the priest address the Son destroys the imagery [though perhaps this is why St. Gregory's Liturgy ends as it does, strongly emphasizing that it is Christ who breaks, blesses, etc...])
Later presbyters became heads in their own right of eucharistic communities (parishes), and this symbolism became blurred. Instead of standing around the bishop, the presbyter takes the place of the bishop in his stead. Perfectly proper, the main point is that the priest, whether a bishop or a presbyter in his stead, stands in the place of Christ, who is the true priest who is actually offering the Sacrifice.
It isn't an ontological change to the person ordained (an indelible mark): it is that they are set aside to serve in a capacity and receive grace from God to perform that service. They are changed, certainly, in that they are overcome with God's grace to enable them to serve, but that grace is not captive, that they can take it with them outside the Catholic priest and still be able to say certain words and perform the voodoo to transubstantiate... A presbyter outside the church is no presbyter...