Ashley Westwood captained the Clarets as he made a popular return to the Alexandra Stadium.
But the midfielder couldn’t help Burnley overcome his former club as League Two Crewe warmed up for the start of their season in a fortnight’s time with a morale-boosting win.
Westwood started his career with the Railwaymen and won promotion and captained the club before he left to join Aston Villa at the age of 22.
His return was warmly welcomed as he was given the armband by assistant manager Ian Woan, who led the Clarets in company with Under-23s’ boss and former Nottingham Forest team-mate Steve Stone.
And Westwood – whose dad Kevin still works for Crewe as their electrician – looked to provide the spark to get the Clarets moving with an early effort from Matt Lowton’s pull-back which Crewe keeper Will Jaaskelainen touched over the top.
That was a quarter of an hour into a low-key start and six minutes later Crewe went ahead.
After a flurry of corners, the Clarets were caught on the break as Kevin Long nursed a knock at one end and defensive partner Jimmy Dunne’s attempted clearance at the other found Charlie Kirk to slot home.
Kirk should have been given another sight of goal shortly afterwards but instead it was Chris Porter who was given the ball and his angled drive was easily held by Nick Pope, who played the full game with ex-Crewe keeper Adam Legzdins as back-up on the bench.
There were also full run-outs for all 10 of Burnley’s outfield players, including summer signing Erik Pieters on the former Stoke City defender’s return to the Potteries.
The game-time will have been invaluable as the Clarets build towards the Premier League opener in three weeks’ time.
But with full football sharpness still to come, the Clarets saw plenty of the ball without really carrying a cutting edge.
Widemen Dwight McNeil and Johann Berg Gudmundsson both asked questions of the Crewe defence and sent long-range efforts wide before the break.
But the League Two side were never overly stretched and showed their customary composure on the ball to fashion another chance after the break for Kirk, whose first-time effort was saved by Pope.
Pope’s handling was also spot-on as he held a well-struck free-kick from Alex substitute James Jones, while Jay Rodriguez, in his first public appearance back in a Burnley shirt, looked the Clarets’ most likely source of an equaliser.
But from two half-chances he failed to hit the target, shooting over and then heading wide, as the Clarets – splitting their resources between here and Port Vale - drew a blank in this corner of Staffordshire.
Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen; Ng, Hunt (Jones 74), Nolan, Pickering; Powell, Wintle, Green (Lundstram 74), Kirk; Lowery, Porter. Substitutes: Richards, Riley, Ainley, Finney, Dale, Davies.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Long, Dunne, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Benson, Westwood, McNeil; Rodriguez, Barnes. Substitutes: Legzdins, Cropper, Glennon, Younger, Harker.
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 2,058 (348 Burnley)