World medals only half story for GB
For a team that was supposed to be critically weakened by injuries to its key components, the British squad in Berlin had a remarkably successful nine days.
A final haul of six medals, one more than performance director Charles van Commenee had predicted, left GB eighth in the medal table, with their best medal haul since 1999.
Beyond that simple statistic, however, there are several more complex reasons why the forthright Dutchman will be flying back to the UK with an extra bounce in his stride.
Medals only ever tell part of the story. What can be more revealing is the number of finalists a country produces, and the placings athletes achieve in those finals.
Before these championships, BBC statistician Mark Butler compiled a table that compared the British performances at all the Worlds so far. Under his system, one point is awarded to an athlete who finishes eighth, two for seventh and three for sixth, all the way up to eight for a first place.
On that basis, Britain scored a total of 34 points in Helsinki four years ago. At the last Worlds in Osaka the tally was better - 61. And in Berlin? It has risen still further, to 80.5 (Mark B awards half marks in the event of a tied place, whereas the IAAF version does not).
That figure is the best return a British team has had in 16 years. Not since the glories of Stuttgart, where Linford Christie, Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell all won gold, has a GB squad scored so highly.
This gives a better indication of strength across the board than medals on their own can do. For GB to score almost twice as well as they did at the Worlds in Paris in 2003 is heartening news with the London Olympics just three summers away.
Eleven of Van Commenee's athletes produced personal bests in Berlin. Not only does that speak of a progression in physical ability, it also indicates an aptitude for producing the goods under the most intense pressure.
Phillips Idowu's lifetime best to snatch the triple jump gold from his Olympic nemesis Nelson Evora is perhaps the most high-profile example, but there also breakthough performances from less heralded names like Will Sharman, Dai Green and Emily Freeman.
"It's a very positive step moving towards 2012," says double world champion and now BBC pundit Colin Jackson. "This is a young team which is building and developing together, and that is great to see.
"There are the building blocks in place for them to develop over the next few years - the European Championships next summer, and then the next Worlds in 2011. I'm excited to see what this team can produce."
This was a team that exceeded what most observers thought an optimistic target without two of its most recent world champions, Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe, winning a medal between them.
It was also without three athletes who, going previous form and the marks produced by the medallists in Berlin, would have been fancied to make the podium had they been fit - Kelly Sotherton in the heptathlon, Mara Yamauchi in the marathon and Tasha Danvers in the 400m hurdles.
Factor in the absence of Olympic high jump silver medallist Germaine Mason, who injured his ankle a week before Berlin, and the picture seems even rosier.
What Van Commenee will be want to ensure, however, is that Berlin does not come to be viewed in future years as false dawn.
"That's a dramatic improvement over the last few years, and it's encouraging and very impressive, but you have to look at it as something to build on," says multiple world and Olympic champion Michael Johnson. "The concern is what happens from here.
"You can't be content with what you have. We saw lots of good things in Athens, but the foot wasn't kept on the pedal, and my concern going forward would be that the same thing might happen again."
Johnson is also wary of over-celebrating a tally boosted by two relay successes.
"This is an individual sport. In 2004 the 4x100m relay team won the Olympic gold medal and that did nothing for either one of those guys from an individual standpoint.
"There are medals to be won. There are athletes who have the ability to get in finals that don't get in finals and that continues to be a problem.
"You can't solve that by, at the end of the championships, by bringing home a medal and saying, "We're doing OK here". I think that would be a mistake.
"The 4x100m men brought home a medal to be proud of, but realistically you have to keep that in perspective if you want to improve. If you're fine with where you are and that's all you want to strive for then great but there's more to be had."
Encouragingly, a new generation of British talent has also started to emerge this summer.
The team sent to the World Youth Championships returned with four golds, while 15 medals were won at the European Juniors and 18 at the European Under-23s.
Van Commenee is nothing if not a realist. There are still substantial problems to be solved in British athletics, not least in terms of deciding whether athletes should be made to train together in concentrated groups or be allowed to work alone with their own coaches.
But his task leading up to 2012 will seem just a little bit easier this week than it did 10 days ago.