The QR score wouldn't have covered the SP score, only the FS score. Had there not be QR rounds in 2012, they would have let him directly into the SP. Plushenko had no excuse for not earning the scores in the then current season any more than Lysacek has for this season (at least so far), since both suffered injuries. The ISU wanted Plushenko to compete. They gave him the exception.
Besides, I was speaking to their being a process, since the Russian Fed used it.