In answer to your questions BB
On a couple of occasions Burgess mentioned Rossi was struggling mentally with his mid pack positions and found it very disheartening. 'Trying' of course is all relative. How often in the past has Rossi been required to ride to his maximum 100% ability? I would suggest very rarely indeed in his glory years. Has he done so this year? I don't think so. Did he try to 2011? His crash rate would suggest so. Our three Aliens have hung it all out this year riding the razors edge all the way. At EUR18 million you'd think Corse deserved a bit more effort from Rossi rather than crashing through attention loss at Laguna.
Rossi in his own words relished the thought of the Ducati challenge. A raw proper GP prototype motorcycle. Something that stirred memories of his 500cc years. He felt he could adapt and tame it. Quite simply he couldn't.
Due to tyres in the main 2010 & 2011 were Ducati's worst years. Stoner is on record as saying when he and Gabbarini found the narrow set-up window the Ducati was a very good motorcycle. Rossi and Burgess never found this window for themselves.
I've stated it a dozens of times before. Yes the Ducati is probably behind the M1 and RCV but Rossi made it look a damn sight worse than what it really is. All machines have their relative strengths and weakness. It's up to the rider to mitigate those issues. The HRC boys managed it with their severe chatter. Why couldn't Rossi with his understeer? Well, I know the answer to that rhetorical question - talent limitation.
In some ways we still don't know the relative merits of the current Duke. Only a true Alien can push to the 'eenth degree and get the best from a bike. But what I do know is Stoner won on it when difficult, and Dani won on the RCV when it handled like a pig early 2010. Rossi's won nothing on a difficult motorcycle.
Our current situation may, as I believe, simply be that three riders are that much better than all the rest. A situation brought into sharp focus by the failure of Rossi, which due to his previous stature manifests public & most journo opinion in the (unfair) blaming of Ducati. I truly believe the goalposts have been moved beyond the skill level of Valentino and just about all the rest. Although MM will almost certainly make the leap.