Agree with using smaller steps. For example, pitch 1 vial into a 1 liter 1.040 starter batch, let it do its thing (stirplate helps a lot), chill x several days, decant and pour into another 2 liter 1.040 starter batch, etc. You're interested in the number of quality doublings of your viable yeast (to get the yeast cell counts up) as well as yeast cell vitality (how healthy they are, i.e., are they "rev'd up and ready to go?"). A starter really helps get the fermentation going quickly. There are calculators out there to help figure out what volume you need.
Frankly, I find the Mr. Malty website confusing and unhelpful.
Furthermore, most of us homebrewers don't have hemocytometers to do yeast cell counts.
At the end of the day, I do one vial per 1 liter starter for ales (5 gallon batch) and step starters 1 vial per 1 liter starter, then step up to 2 liter starter for lagers (5 gallon batch). It seems to work.