After the recent changes where we reduced the impact of expansions even further, I think you can now very clearly see for yourself that these things indeed have very little influence on the overall difficulty, because other factors weigh a lot more heavily. If you are still calling that a lie and still think, after finding this out for yourself now, that you had been better off by not placing these expansions, I really don't know what else to say.
The same goes for Ancient Wonders: If you think the benefit you get from those is less than the impact they have, feel free to remove them and see how that works out for you. But please don't blame me if you find out that it does give you a harder time in the tournaments. As I've tried to explain before: Yes, of course they influence the total difficulty a little bit per level and 10 maxed out AW are a lot of levels so of course these levels combined will reflect in the number of enemy troops, but on the other hand all these high level AW give you a lot of benefits which make the tournaments (and all the other game elements) a lot easier as well. So in the end you absolutely won't have an easier time in the tournaments or in the game itself, of which tournaments is just 1 feature around the main journey, by removing (or not placing) them. But please feel free to try it out if you want to test that for yourself. After all, this is Beta, so feel free to make use of that here.