Ferdinand was omitted from Capello's squad to face Montenegro on Friday despite featuring in Manchester United's last three games.
It has raised the previously unthinkable prospect of Ferdinand missing out on next summer's finals, with Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and now Phil Jones pushing to start alongside skipper John Terry.
Certainly it is a far cry from the Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren eras, when the coaches seemed far too close to senior stars.
But Capello has re-emphasised his only criteria for selection will be form.
"I select the player, not the name," said Capello.
"Rio needs to play games. He has not played enough. He only played two games and last week he was on the bench.
"Sorry, but it's my job. I check all the players before I select them. If the player is at the top of his form I select them."
It will leave Frank Lampard also sweating on his place, whilst confirming to Wayne Rooney that he faces a fight to claim a starting berth when his suspension eventually ends at some point during the group stages.
Indeed, Rooney now appears to have cost himself any involvement in next month's friendly with Spain at Wembley, and will not start any match until such time as he is available.