I cannot say it is platitude. Of course there are other factors, but I have seen too many sites ranking high for the terms I was looking for and queries returned junk results.
From the begining spam and link manipulation seems not to be a primary issue for search engines.
Caffeine is a subject on every webmaster forums or blogs with big noise and big expectations which are not really when I see how sites rank.
A good question to webmasters should ask: Do you like Google Caffeine? I bet most of them will say something different.