It certainly is. Google, for instance, invest heavily in returning results for what you [i]should[/i have searched for, as far as their internal engineering says. The goal is to be the most relevant - not the most exactly matched.
In competitive industries you need to be looking at the external and internal links to the URL that ranks - most likely there are some valuable ones using the words you're searching for. That combined with an obviously related and on-topic page are key factors in stable rankings for competitive keywords.