But far from being disappointed, India captain Dravid was elated after leading his country to only their third series win in 15 tours of England following a draw in the final Test here at The Oval.
The 34-year-old, asked how he would have felt if someone had made the seemingly outlandish suggestion that India' would have won without a century from the 'Fab Four' during the three Tests, replied: "I would have said great, that's what Indian cricket needs. We need different heroes."
Left-arm quick Khan, whose India career appeared to have stalled, led the attack superbly with 18 wickets at just over 20 apiece.
Both he and fellow left-armer Rudra Pratap Singh troubled England with their late swing and control even when bowling from around the wicket.
Meanwhile Karthik, who made his name as a wicket-keeper, scored a fifty in each of the three Tests.
His partnership of 147 with Jaffer, after India had bowled out England for 198, played a key role in India's seven wicket second Test win at Trent Bridge which came after they'd clung on for a draw with one wicket standing at Lord's.
India's success was also a triumph for something akin to an old-fashioned management structure.
They may have been without a coach following Greg Chappell's departure after a shock first round World Cup exit but 73-year-old team manager Chandu Borde provided the kind of sage advice that comes from a lifetime's involvement in the game.
For example, the former India batsman and chief selector's tip to Jaffer to skip in the dressing room just before he went out to bat, so as to get his feet moving, was especially inspired.
Venkatesh Prasad (bowling coach), Robin Singh (fielding coach) and Greg King (trainer) completed the support staff.
"Even though we might not have had a head coach, we've had great guidance," said Dravid.
India piled up 664 in the first innings at The Oval, their record total against England featuring leg-spinner Anil Kumble's maiden Test hundred.
Dravid, after deciding against enforcing the follow-on saw his side slump to 11 for three. The man nicknamed 'the Wall', made 12 in 96 balls - contributed just five in a stand of 65 with Ganguly, who completed a 53-ball fifty.
"It must have been excruciating for you all to watch so you can imagine how excruciating it must have been for me," Dravid said.
"That's the way I can be, a bit bloody-minded and not give it away. But I knew we needed a partnership."
Dravid, criticised in some quarters for not enforcing the follow-on and instead leaving England with what would have been a record-breaking fourth innings total of 500 to win, said he didn't want to tire out his attack.
"As a captain I get a pulse for what's happening. I have to back my judgment - that is what I earn my corn for."
England, despite Kevin Pietersen's hundred on the last day here on Monday, never had a chance of a win although that didn't stop the South Africa-born batsman from upsetting Kumble when the pair collided as the leg-spinner tried to field the ball.
"Anil can get quite worked up when he's bowling," explained Dravid. "Sometimes, on very rare occasions, it can get the better of him.
"But Anil has been a top man and I am really happy for the way he got a hundred," he added of the master bowler who, in common with the middle-order quartet, was likely making his last tour of England.
India's victory came just 48 hours before the 60th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain and Dravid was well aware of the significance of his team's achievement.
"As Indian players we understand we do bring a lot of joy to a lot of people with our successes.
"It's nice to know that there are so many young kids, in small villages and towns in India who will be taking out a cricket bat and ball and just enjoying the moment with us."