Fabio Capello has warned Wayne Rooney that he may have put his Euro 2012 dreams at risk with his red card in Montenegro on Friday night.
Capello's immediate reaction to the sixth red card of Rooney's tempestuous career was to defend him and express his continued trust in the 25-year-old, even though the dismissal came just 24 hours after he was explicitly asked if he was in the correct frame of mind to play following his father's arrest over an alleged football betting scam.
The Italian was also at pains to point out Rooney remains part of his plans and, barring injury, will be part of his squad in Poland and Ukraine next summer.
However, there was a pretty nasty sting in the tail of Capello's words, one that it is impossible to imagine predecessors Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren delivering.
It may be incomprehensible to some, interpreted as a warning being delivered by others, or Capello just talking off the top of his head without any thought of the consequences.
But it is there. In lashing out at Miodrag Dzudovic, Rooney might just have been booting himself out of the European Championships.
"I need to find the solution for the first game, or two games, that Rooney will not play," said Capello. "And if we find that solution, he needs to work to return to the first 11.
"You know me. Sometimes I make mistakes but I try to select the best players, in the best moment of form.
"There were two I did not select for this game who are doing really well.
"I saw the game that (Jermain) Defoe played against Arsenal. He did really well. He ran a lot and pressed a lot. Daniel Sturridge is the same."
Did we hear that correctly? Are you really prepared to leave Rooney out even if one of the world's best players was available for selection.
"Yes," replied Capello firmly. "In my life as a manager I have put on the bench a lot of players. I always decided who was the best player at that moment."
Furthermore, Rooney will be missing when England take on world champions Spain at Wembley next month, and when Capello announces his starting line-ups for the friendlies that follow the 25-year-old will not be in those either.
"Rooney will not play against Spain. I want to test new players, a new style and different movement," added Capello, before broadening his point.
"Sometimes he will come on at half-time. But not from the start. He will not start.
"We need to prepare the first XI who will start in the Euros.
"I have got a lot of forwards at this moment, really good forwards, and I need to find the best solution."
So now Rooney knows, if he was in any doubt before. Whatever mistakes Capello privately acknowledges about that atrocious World Cup campaign, keeping every player at arm's length is not among them.
England are likely to have three games before their squad for the Finals needs to be named, and Capello intends to use them wisely.
"We've got something good," he said. "And don't forget, we have some very good, important players, who are injured or not on top form.
"(Jack) Wilshere is an important player. Steven Gerrard is another. Now we have (Gary) Cahill and (Phil) Jones. (Kyle) Walker, (Micah) Richards too. "And Danny Welbeck is potentially a really good player."
All are set to get a chance over the coming months, with Holland lined up as February's friendly opponents, with a second Wembley match -- possibly against Portugal -- still to be confirmed for November 15.