I'd hacked together a thumbnail version of YARPP using two of the templates as a base quite a while before the thumbnail version was released. I'd like to do the same with ERP to reduce the database load. Seems a really great approach that makes a lot of sense. But, I can't quite grok the method in the code. Tried a few approaches but none completely worked. I guess that I'm not getting the post thumbnail early enough, so it can be brought along with the ID and inserted into the li along with the permalink.
My second version of the YARPP template incorporates Get the Image, while the first one used only a custom field. Now, all posts have been converted to use the > 2.9 post_thumbnail, so Get the Image isn't really necessary but it does still have some advantages and I'd like to keep it if possible.