I'm with Linus!
XFCE does seem to be heading in the right direction. It has only one panel to rule them all. And you can create several of them. In fact, you can configure them and place them in a way such that you can simulate the general interface functionality of Gnome 2! XFCE has adopted the Gstreamer framework (good thing for browser plugins). And the file manager is very similar to Nautilus. Generally the core applications are solid. As icing on the cake, XFCE is refreshingly fast. So it feels like a lightweight Gnome 2 to me.
But XFCE does have its pitfalls. For example, it's not easy to generate application launchers on the panel by dragging from the application menu if the panel auto-hides. But that's not something you do every day. And there are slim pickings for panel applets and glaring omissions such as an applet for cpu frequency monitoring. I'm sure there are a lot more shortfalls, but I'm probably a typical Gnome 2 user (not a power user), so I don't notice.