Alright, my apologies. I don't disagree that using a single vertex and index buffer per subset is better than using one per positions/normals/texture coordinates. I do disagree that collapsing vertices and indices down is difficult. Identifying unique vertices is a matter of looking at the triplet of indices specifying a vertex.
Like I said, your game probably isn't going to be using any standard format natively. If you just want to load in a standard model file to mess around, writing an OBJ loader is quick to do. I honestly thought it was pretty fun and educational. Could your time be spent better elsewhere? Probably, but it's not like you are wasting a month trying to convince Collada or something to load. assimp is a fine solution. But if you want to spend a day or so, you can write an effective OBJ loader.