Anyway, a picture that was part of the online Dragon Magazine article on Yeenoghu, the Demon-prince of Gnolls, made me change my mind a bit. Here's a cropped portion of it, the part which shows a couple actual, regular gnolls. This picture made me want to find a place in my settings to use them.
So, what I've stumbled upon is combining them with my militaristic hobgoblin empire, Kurushat. What if the hobgoblins worshipped a being not too unlike Yeenoghu (Yinigu, to give it some differences but still a facile familiarity. Sorta like how Clark Ashton Smith and Howard Phillips Lovecraft would deliberately spell names differently when they borrowed them from each other.) Gnolls could be "the Chosen of Yinigu"; hobgoblins who, upon undergoing a ritual, undergo a painful mutation process if they are, in fact, chosen of Yinigu (otherwise, of course, they die) they become gnolls, and are given an elite place in hobgoblin society and the military; a sort martial chaplain, or holy warrior of sorts.
To me, that's infinitely more interesting than the cliche of gnoll bandits and highwaymen.