Re-integrating lost panel contents

I have a Ubuntu MATE desktop on which my Applications menu crashed yesterday and disappeared into the cosmic bit bucket. In the process of trying to repair it (which I managed to do), I followed an instruction I found online and issued mate-panel --reset. Big Mistake! All of my rather complex panels and drawers which I'd spent considerable time putting together followed my Applications menu into cyber-nowhere!!

I note that all the details of application launchers and drawers are still there, in ~/.config/mate/panel2.d/default/launchers/*.desktop files, but are not expressed in the (new) side panel. It looks as if the integration is done in the file ~/.config/dconf/user which is a binary file.

Is there any way to re-integrate these existing *.desktop files into the panel without totally re-creating them from scratch?

Perhaps a related question, which might be easier to answer, is:

What file contains the information on the layout of panels and drawers on the current desktop, linking them to ~/.config/mate/panel2.d/default/launchers/*.desktop files? Backing this file up frequently will avoid accidents such as the one I experienced earlier this week