Michael Duff admitted his side suffered a harsh lesson as the Clarets were hammered 6-1 by Sheffield United in the Professional Development League.
Under-23s boss Duff absolved senior men Dean Marney and Nahki Wells of blame as they put in a shift at the Tameside Stadium to continue their build-up towards match fitness following injury lay-offs.
Both looked to have made major strides on the comeback trail as midfield man Marney played for over an hour and striker Wells completed a full 90 minutes.
But the rest of the night was one to forget as Burnley’s four-match unbeaten run was cut to shreds by the razor-sharp Blades who went top of the north group in style thanks to a hat-trick from the eye-catching Tyler Smith.
“It was a harsh lesson,” said Duff. “If you want to turn up and not run around, not head it and not kick it, it doesn’t matter what you do with the ball.
“I thought the two first-team lads were outstanding.
“Deano had a real upturn from his first two 45 minutes, where he was just easing himself in.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time and I thought Nahki was brilliant. He just kept going.
“But our lads have got to learn from that. It’s the harsh reality of budding, aspiring professional footballers.
“They need to remember that every time they walk over the white line. If you think you can just observe a game and jog around like that, that’s what happens.
“I thought they were good, but every time we had the ball they looked like scoring.”
Dwight McNeil pulled a goal back to make it 5-1 with a spectacular long-range strike.
But the visitors fittingly had the last word as the Clarets were hit for six in front of first-team management staff men Ian Woan, Tony Loughlan and Billy Mercer.
“We will learn from things like that,” added Duff, who was honest in his assessment of a bad night at the office.
“It’s proved a kick in the backside. We’ve gone a month (unbeaten) and people have said nice things and all of a sudden you take your foot off the gas and that’s what happens.
“It’s a stark reminder of the reality of where they are.
“They need to remember sometimes that they are representing a Premier League football club and Burnley Football Club.
“One thing that the first team, who we are aspiring to be, is, is that no matter what happens, whatever the result, Man City away (or whoever), they know they have been in a game.
“I’m not sure Sheffield United will have walked off the pitch having the same thoughts. That’s the most disappointing thing really.”