Okay let's start off by saying using tables for layout purposes is a terrible idea - the web has largely moved on from that sort of thinking. The focuses on semantics and responsive design have become much more important than "that works" could ever be. The reduction in tables nested in tables nested in tables nested in wrapper tables is a huge step in a very positive direction in my opinion. However, this dodogy HTML did make some layout desires very very easy and some of those are quite awkward with sensible HTML and CSS. Apparently we need some sort of middle-ground compromise. Time for an example.
I recently had the idea to try and create a simple page layout without any HTML at all except for the <html> and <body> tags. After a few minutes of playing around I had something working, it was actually weirdly easy!