This was a game to invigorate the reputation of friendly matches, even if some England supporters might have preferred it to peter out in traditional fashion.
Ghana were playing 4,000 miles away on Sunday, when they won an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville, but a jet-lagged squad still went the distance here as Sunderland's Asamoah Gyan took a wholly deserved equaliser with a fine shot in stoppage time.
There are grumbles whenever England fail to win, particularly at Wembley, but this was a friendly where the players could not be accused of taking a perfunctory interest in the outcome. It will be relevant forever to Andy Carroll, who opened the scoring with his first goal for his country during his second appearance. The friendly also had an element of novelty to make it memorable.
Danny Welbeck, like Gyan, is on the books at the Stadium of Light and the 20-year-old striker, on loan from Manchester United, took his first cap as a substitute after being called into the squad belatedly. It is a tale with a certain appeal and this friendly differed from most in a ground where the atmosphere was invigorated by the large following for Ghana.
When the noise had faded to silence, the thought may still have been ringing in Capello's mind that, in the absence of a clutch of Champions League players from United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, he had still seen a few who gave a solid account of themselves in a game of more vigour than had been anticipated.
There is no sense in exaggerating and Joleon Lescott, for instance, is unlikely to depose John Terry or Rio Ferdinand when Capello has them at hand for a competitive game, but the impression overall was that the faces in the line-up can occasionally include fresh ones. Matt Jarvis of Wolverhampton Wanderers took his first cap when coming on towards the close.
Nobody speaks of a golden generation, but it will be welcome if the manager's starting line-up becomes a little harder to predict in the days ahead.
The selection against Ghana was close to a second-string line-up since Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Young were the only starters who had also been on the field at kick-off in Cardiff last Saturday.
Despite that, Capello had not really resorted to an obscure batch of footballers. Carroll certainly could not be termed a makeweight once Liverpool had spent £35m to take him from Newcastle United. He had made his debut in the loss to France four months ago, but expectations have climbed in parallel with his valuation.
The early part of the night, at least, was given over to spirited attacking from England. There was high energy, too, that was underlined by the interchanging midfield. Experimentation was on show with Stuart Downing and Ashley Young, against expectation, on the right and left wings respectively.
It worked rather well. If there was any disappointment, it lay on occasion in the fact that Carroll did not look entirely fit following the recent injury. In its own way, that made it all the more encouraging that he should put his side ahead.
Two minutes from half-time Young found his Aston Villa team-mate Downing and the latter released Carroll to score with a low and accurate finish. Young's part in that ought to have come as a relief to the Villa player since he had, against all odds, found a way of hitting the bar from close range after excellent build-up from Downing and a cut-back by James Milner in the 25th minute.
The hitch for England lay in the wealth of ability in Ghana's ranks and the determination of their players not to cave in to fatigue after that draining trip to London. That yearning to compete reflected an awareness of the debt owed to the significant number of their followers at Wembley. They could have pictured themselves becoming the first African team to beat England.
Hart needed to make a very good save from a close-range attempt by Dominic Adiyiah in the 27th minute, even if the goalkeeper was also on the verge of looking a hapless figure later on when he knocked the ball to Gyan. The striker came to his aid at that stage by looking puzzled rather than merciless on discovering that he was in possession.
The visitors had more zest following the interval and a drive from Fulham's John Pantsil was deflected marginally over the bar with almost an hour gone. At that point England followers probably felt a secret pang of nostalgia for duller friendlies in which their team prevail as a matter of course.
By the close, everyone in the 80,012 crowd should have felt that their time had been put to good use. Capello, too, must detect benefits. He does not have a host of fresher players who will dazzle world football, but he will be satisfied if it is slightly tougher for him to decide on his line-up when Switzerland come to Wembley for the Euro 2012 qualifier in June.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010