However, Italy is penalized for drawing its final qualifiers 2-2, in Denmark last Friday and at home to 55th-ranked Armenia on Tuesday. Victory in either would have guaranteed a seeding in Brazil.
"I'm not disappointed. The goal was qualifying," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "At the European Championship we weren't a top seed either and we finished second, so we shouldn't let it bother us. It doesn't worry me."
Italy still carries an intimidation factor which the Swiss lack, and also comes with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and a Franck Ribery-inspired France.
Both could join an illustrious group of unseeded European teams at the World Cup draw in Salvador de Bahia following an eight-team playoffs round next month.
Portugal and France both could have fared better under FIFA's old system of seeding teams based on performances at recent World Cups. France being runner-up in 2006, when Portugal got to the semifinals, counts for nothing now.
Though Portugal also reached the Euro 2012 semifinals and France was a quarterfinalist, both have dropped below a Swiss team which neither has played in the past four years.
France has further gripes about FIFA's seeding by rankings, because it placed second to Spain in the only European qualifying group with five teams rather than six.
Coach Didier Deschamps this week called it a "double punishment" that France had two fewer qualifiers to earn ranking points, and will likely be edged by Ukraine for seeding in the European playoffs being drawn on Monday.
"From my point of view it's not very logical," said Deschamps, whose route to Brazil could be directed through Portugal.
The Netherlands, which took the top spot from Spain in the August 2011 rankings, did play Switzerland but drew 0-0 in Amsterdam in November 2011.
The Dutch might yet be seeded if Uruguay slips up, but could have edged the Swiss by beating 88th-ranked Estonia in Tallinn last month. They needed a stoppage-time goal to draw 2-2.
Switzerland, however, can also suggest one key result which raised its ranking and perhaps justifies its top-seed status.
In August, when so many teams treat their friendlies lightly, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's team beat Brazil 1-0.
AP Sports Writers Rob Harris in London and Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed.