The revival in England's fortunes since the Italian took charge was firmly placed in perspective by the superiority of a Spanish side that always appeared to have an additional gear in reserve that was never required. Goals from David Villa and second-half substitute Fernando Llorente ensured the home side's superiority was reflected in the margin of victory on a night that saw David Beckham equal the late Bobby Moore's record of 108 outfield caps.
Capello was unhappy that his side had failed to put Spain under greater pressure but recognised that they were always likely to struggle against opponents who have now put together a 29-match unbeaten run including 27 wins.
"I think this game was very important for us," Capello said. "We played against one of the best teams in the world and we knew the difficulties that we would have to meet during the game. I learned a lot of things about my team that will help for the next games we have to play for World Cup qualification."
Capello denied that the defeat had left him feeling pessimistic about England's chances of mixing it with the world's best at the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa next year. "Spain have one of the best midfields in the world, they won the EURO and it is almost as if they are playing from memory," he said.
"They are very good at keeping the ball and they can punish you if you make one mistake. We can't play the same style: we have to play with our style and the players we have. I understand better now what we need to do when we play against a team like Spain."
Spain's boss Vicente del Bosque admitted he had been a little concerned as England enjoyed a couple of early chances, but declared himself satisfied with yet another win. "We were a little bit lost for the first few minutes but, little by little, we became better," the former Real Madrid manager said. "It is not only the quality of our play, it is also the spirit of the team. That is something that was in place before I took over but I'm glad that it seems to be continuing."