Rooney reduction shows his England importance
Wayne Rooney needed a tonic to lift the spirits the morning after the night before in Basle, and it was provided after a 100-mile journey through the Swiss night to Nyon.
Uefa's decision to downgrade Rooney's three-match ban for kicking Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic in England's final Euro 2012 qualifier in Podgorica may not lighten Sir Alex Ferguson's mood after Manchester United's Champions League exit, but Fabio Capello will be a happy man.
After what was a relatively brief appeal process at Uefa's headquarters, England's coach can now bring some clarity to his planning for next summer and testing tasks against France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine as the penalty for Rooney's red card was reduced.
The new punishment also clears Capello's head about whether to actually take Rooney to Poland and Ukraine, a decision which may have been less straightforward had he been eliminated from the entire group stage.
Rooney will now, injury permitting, join the squad primed for what Capello hopes will be a successful conclusion to his career as England coach.
After being drawn in a testing group for Euro 2012, Capello will be glad of Rooney's availability. Photo: Getty
The Football Association has already drawn criticism, notably from Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, for launching the appeal - but fixed penalties in England are in contrast to Uefa's more flexible approach, as director of communications Adrian Bevington was swift to point out.
Rooney's form this season has been mixed, but the presence of the player, Capello, FA lawyers and the player's representative Paul Stretford was almost like a public demonstration of his importance to England.
BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson told me he believes the right level of punishment has now been reached - and Rooney's presence around England squad could have a variety of benefits.
"If they go into that game against Ukraine needing a win or a draw to go through they can call on him," said Lawrenson. "And the fact that he is there might just inspire some big performances in the first two games from players who don't want to get left out of the third one."
This is the perfect summary of why the FA went into bat for Rooney in such numbers and why Capello will be so relieved to have the striker available as part of his England weaponry, even if it is only guaranteed for one game at this stage.
For all the justified question marks about his temperament, Rooney remains the one attacking player capable of giving England's play an element of fantasy, of the unexpected.
The danger could be that Rooney's watching brief for England's first two games may shorten his fuse further when he is free to play, but, quite simply, he gives Capello's side a dimension and threat they do not possess without him.
Rooney's ability to link midfield and attack is also crucial to the tactical flexibility Capello may need to employ if England progress to the later stages of Euro 2012.
The former Everton man must now return to Old Trafford, swallow his disappointment at being deprived of Champions League football for the rest of the season and concentrate on improving club form in time to serve his country next summer.
Big tournaments have not agreed with Rooney. He suffered a serious foot injury after inspiring England to the Euro 2004 quarter-finals and made a belated entry at the World Cup in Germany two years later before getting sent off as England went out at the same stage.
And his World Cup in 2010 was a tale of unrelenting misery, bored off the pitch and lifeless on it, only claiming headlines for an ill-judged verbal attack on England's fans into a television camera.
By curtailing his punishment, Uefa has given Rooney the opportunity to make an impact on its showpiece - England and Capello will hope he grasps it.