I should think the net gain depends on the type of music involved. Back at
Universal, I was asked by a producer to make 1:1 analog copies of album
masters played in reverse to be sent out for mastering. The thinking was
exactly as you describe: sharper transients, better bass response and
definition,etc. Since these were all reggae albums from the 70s and 80s,
they felt it was worth the effort.
In my own crude testing, I found that, aside from making sure the channels
were consistent (something one can easily overlook), I also found azimuh to
be the crucial factor in achieving any success, Many masters were Dolby
encoded, which gave me much pause, but no one else was concerned about it (I
figured decoding between the two tape machines was the least of all evils).
Was there a difference? Hard to say. I believe there was a slightly better
result from reverse transfer, but nothing drastic. And definitely nothing
that couldn't be got with skillful use of modern compression and EQ.