On Tuesday, Fabio Capello reminded everyone why he became known in his native Italy as the sergente di ferro (iron sergeant), as he dropped Theo Walcott from his squad.
Walcott travelled with England to Germany in 2006 as a raw 17-year-old as Sven-Goran Eriksson shocked the nation with his bizarre selection. But four years on and with a wealth of Premier League experience under his belt, Walcott has failed to make the cut.
Most observers were expecting inconsistent Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips to be discarded, but Walcott's performances in the Mexico and Japan friendlies sealed his fate.
Indeed, his 45 minutes before being hauled off against Japan on Sunday were abject. He rarely got on the ball, and when he did manage to run at an opponent, his cross was too close to the goalkeeper. He also mis-controlled on a couple of occasions as he failed to develop an understanding with Glen Johnson.
It has been a similar story with Arsenal all season. When not in the treatment room, Walcott's displays have been infuriatingly inconsistent. Chris Waddle suggested earlier in the season that he lacked a "football brain" and that was certainly how it appeared as he regularly chose the wrong option when out wide, and often looked ill at ease in a front of goal.
But his omission is nonetheless a surprise for several reasons.
Walcott is by far the quickest player in the squad and would probably have been the most fleet-footed of all World Cup participants.
His hat-trick against Croatia in September 2008 also provided the catalyst for England's automatic qualification for the World Cup.
The fact that the former Southampton player started both of the friendlies against Mexico and Japan, indicated that he was central to Capello's plans. Instead, it seems as though the sergeant gave Walcott enough rope to hang himself.
Every 23-man World Cup squad has now been announced. See the 32 official squads in the World Cup section.
Michael Regan © Getty Images