I recently learned about analytic torsion and about the amazing Cheeger-Muller theorem identifying analytic and Reidemeister torsion for compact Riemannian manifolds.

Now analytic torsion is defined in terms of the eigenvalues of the Laplacian, acting on the de Rham complex; essentially, one takes the alternating product of the zeta-regularized determinants of the Laplacian, suitably normalized. This is all reasonably natural.

What bothers me about this definition is that it depends so strongly on properties of the de Rham complex, which I see as just a (particularly nice) choice of acyclic resolution for the constant sheaves $\underline{\mathbb{R}}$ or $\underline{\mathbb{C}}$. So my question is:

Is it possible to recover the analytic torsion from the derived category of sheaves over (a compact Riemannian manifold) $M$?

I would also be happy with any other "intrinsic" characterization of analytic torsion.

EDIT (3/15/2011): This is profilesdroxford54's suggested recipe as I understand it: (1) Take the determinant of any perfect complex resolving the constant sheaf, with its natural integral structure coming from the inclusion of the constant sheaf $\underline{\mathbb{Z}}$ in $\underline{\mathbb{R}}$; (2) Take the determinant of the de Rham complex with the integral structure given by zeta regularization; (3) The difference in the two integral structures is the analytic torsion (though I do not immediately see why there is a natural map between the two determinant lines, which is essential). Of course this recipe does not free us from the de Rham complex, but it suggests a way to do so, which I'll flesh out in three more focused questions.

(1) Is there a good theory of the derived category of sheaves on a compact Riemannian manifold, with some extra structure (i.e. self-dual, as in the case of the de Rham complex over compact Riemannian manifolds, or equivalently, with an inner product)? This seems to me like a very natural thing to study, so I am not as pessimistic as profilesdroxford54.

(2) In the framework of such a derived category (which must contain lots of infinite-dimensional objects, e.g. the de Rham complex) is there a good theory of the determinant, and does it agree with the zeta-regularized determinant? Someone recently mentioned some determinantal theory in the infinite-dimensional derived setting to me, but I know next to nothing about this sort of thing; references are welcome.

(3) Why is there a canonical map (up to sign?) between this new determinant line and the usual one (which is necessary to compare integral structure)?