Lost metacity and gnome panel

I have a brand new installation of Debian testing amd64. After spending
a day and a half installing apps and configuring stuff, I rebooted.
After logging in I had no window manager and no gnome panel.

Faced with a blank screen, I can open a terminal and start them both
manually, and then everything is fine. 

I created a new user. Logging in as the new user I have the window
manager and gnome panel. Conclusion: The problem is somewhere in my
config files.

I copied my .gnome2, .gnome2_private and .gconf files to the new user's
home folder, then logged back in as the new user. The new user still
has metacity and gnome-panel. I also deleted
my .gnome2, .gnome2_private and .gconf files so they would be recreated
on logging in. They were recreated as expected, but I still had no
metacity or gnome-panel. Conclusion: The problem is somewhere in my
configuration, but not in .gconf, .gnome2 or .gnome2_private.

Using Synaptic I did a complete removal of gnome-panel and metacity and
all their dependencies and related files. Then I reinstalled them.
After logging out and back in again I still have no metacity or

I have spent hours googling trying to figure out exactly what script or
config file launches metacity and gnome-panel after a user logs in.
That information must be a state secret.

I sure hope someone can offer some suggestions. Else I'll have no
choice but to give up on Gnome and go to KDE or something else. I just
can't spend the rest of my life trying to fix Gnome.

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