It might not be as bad as you think
You can use the MCSA2000 as the elective and you have a valid client exam that also applies to the 2003 track - you'd just need to do two exams (70-290 and 70-291)http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcsa/windows2003/default.mspx
Yeah the 70-291 Networking Infrastructure exam has a reputation but really, if you study for it properly its nowhere near as bad as a lot of people say (just don't underestimate it!). Have a read throught the forums and you'll get some really good advice.
The 70-290 (a bit like the Win2000 server exam) is easier and it would be my recommendation to do that one first.
The upgrade exam that expired (70-292) was apparently really tough, and that was effectively the 290/291 combined. I can see how that one was tough and was very hard to pass first time.
Good luck, you'll be fine if you put the effort in.