The classical Oseen–Frank theory of liquid crystal elasticity is based on the experimentally verified fact that there are three independent modes of distortion, each with its associated elastic constant. On the other hand, the arguably more first-principles order parameter-based Landau–de Gennes theory only involves two independent elastic modes. The resulting ‘elastic constants problem’ has led to a considerable amount of vexation among theorists. In a series of papers at the turn of the century, Fukuda en Yokoyama suggested that the resolution of this problem could be found in the proper treatment of non-local effects in the ideal part of the free energy. They used an ingenious, but technically complex, technique based on a field-theoretic approach to semi-flexible polymers. Here we revisit their idea but now in the more accessible framework of density functional theory of rigid particles. Our work recovers their main results for rod-like particles, in that generically an ordered assembly of non-interacting rods has three independent elastic constants associated to it that all scale as the square of the length of the particles and obey the inequalities K2 < K1 < K3. We also consider the case of disc-like particles, and then find in line with expectations that K3 < K1 < K2.