Steven Defour brought a drop of cup cheer on a night of frustration at Burton Albion.
The Clarets’ Carabao Cup bid faltered at the first hurdle as they went out to the League One side.
Missed chances proved costly as Burnley’s poor recent record in the competition, which has also brought exits to Port Vale and Accrington Stanley over the past four seasons, continued with a 2-1 defeat the Pirelli Stadium.
But a major plus was the return to first-team action of Defour, with the midfielder back for the first time since January.
“I enjoyed today, not the result, but I enjoyed playing with the lads again and I hope it can continue like this,” said Defour, who played for 74 minutes after returning to fitness following knee and calf injuries.
“It was a great feeling to be back on the pitch in a competitive game.
“It felt really good. I have waited so long for it. It’s been a really frustrating few months to get back.
“I had some good touches and some good movement and it was great to be back on the pitch.
“I enjoyed myself and I got my touch back, which is important. Now I just have to build on it.
“I just need the rhythm of games, which you only get from playing.”
The return of Defour - who was bright and inventive in the middle of the park and would have claimed a couple of assists but for two tight off-side calls - was one of six changes made by boss Sean Dyche for the third-round tie following last Saturday’s opening Premier League win.
But Kevin Long’s first-half header was over-turned by a deflected Liam Boyce strike and a late Jamie Allen goal to take the edge of Defour’s comeback.
“I was really happy for 60 minutes. We had the game under control and if we score our chances we should have finished the game,” added the former Belgium international, whose return will give Dyche welcome added options as he gets fully up to speed for the Premier League.
“We had chances but unfortunately we couldn’t score more and they got back in the game. At 1-1 it got a bit weird for us and they scored again.
“Every year it’s been difficult in the Carabao Cup. It’s not been kind to us but we have come back with good results in the Premier League.
“I think that’s the main thing for us, to have some good results in the Premier League.”