PHOTOS: Peterborough 2, Burnley FC 1
This loss was a somewhat less chastening experience for the Clarets boss, but no less damaging.
Amid a climate of unrest among sections of the support at the club’s transfer activity, and subsequent start to the campaign, which has now seen one win from six league games, a third defeat was the last thing he wanted.
But that is what he got, and while there will be a process of introspection as he ponders a path through current difficulties, he is happy to take any flak that comes, and deflect it from his young squad.
He accepts in a results industry, he has to ultimately take responsibility.
Some of the criticism is unfair, however.
He is trying to build an exciting, technically-gifted group of players, seemingly on shifting sands.
Having had to accept the sale of Danny Fox, on top of the late-in-the-day sales of Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears, a lot of the hard work put in during pre-season went up in smoke – while earlier decisions to allow certain players to leave might not have been taken in hindsight.
Promotion to the Premier League looks more of a poisoned chalice by the week, with the financial fallout hitting hard, while the board of directors seem preoccupied with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play framework, designed to create clubs that break even from next season.
That is all well and good, but some Burnley fans fear are that could come at a cost, with a battle to compete at this level, or in the worst-case scenario, relegation.
Many feel the squad lacks the streetwise nature to combat the Championship, but while Howe admits he would like to add experience, that comes at a cost, and experience is not necessarily what Premier League managers are prepared to part with.
The turnover of players over the summer has seen a wealth of experience depart, not just in terms of games, but the level played at – Premier League, Championship and international footballers.
He retains the faith that his players will come good – given time. Time is a rare commodity in football, but surely he and his squad are deserving of more patience than six league games.
Looking for a response to the disappointing 2-0 reverse at home to Middlesbrough, defensive deficiencies again came back to hurt Burnley.
Even though chances were created – the Clarets had twice as many efforts on target than their hosts – overall, their football again lacked zip and purpose.
Posh keeper Paul Jones walked away with the man-of-the-match award after a string of saves, but lapses at the back proved critical.
Two in the first eight minutes might have put the game out of reach.
The first came after just two minutes and 15 seconds when Lee Tomlin lifted a simple ball over the top, and the searing pace of Emile Sinclair handed him a straightforward finish. It was the first time Posh had scored the first goal in seven Championship outings.
Then George Boyd fed Sinclair, who shrugged off David Edgar – who endured an afternoon to forget – before cutting inside and beating Brian Jensen, with Ben Mee saving the day with a goal line clearance.
Burnley couldn’t get to grips with Peterborough’s diamond system, as they moved the ball quickly and intelligently between the lines.
There was a further blow as Jensen was forced off with a groin strain, with Lee Grant replacing him.
However, with Jay Rodriguez and the more-advanced Chris McCann getting to grips with playmaker Grant McCann, Burnley began to win the ball high up the pitch and expose Posh’s full-backs.
Charlie Austin saw an effort smothered after Rodriguez headed down a Brian Easton cross, before Rodriguez forced a save from Jones after Ross Wallace robbed McCann.
Burnley’s McCann then had an effort tipped over, while from a Keith Treacy corner, Edgar had a header tipped over.
Posh remained a threat at the other end, and Boyd shot into the side-netting, but Burnley continued to get sights of goal, as McCann turned Lee Frecklington and curled a shot wide, before he centred for Rodriguez, who flicked an effort into the side-netting at the near post.
Burnley looked the more likely to score, but, out of nothing, Sinclair caught Edgar in possession and cut inside before beating Grant with a reverse shot into the bottom left.
The Clarets gave themselves a lifeline right on half-time, however, when Treacy cut on to his right foot and arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
But while playing on the front foot and enjoying most of the ball after the break, Burnley couldn’t carve out the same volume of chances.
Treacy broke superbly from a Posh corner, committing Frecklington, but found little in the way of options or movement in the box, and his centre was cleared.
Sinclair had two chances for his hat-trick, turning and shooting tamely at Grant, before, from a hopeful punt forward, Edgar committed himself, and Sinclair lifted the ball over him before rashly volleying wide.
Howe introduced Junior Stanislas and Marvin Bartley, and Burnley continued to huff and puff.
Treacy and Rodriguez worked an opening, with the latter levered off the ball by McCann, who made no effort to play the ball. However, the officials were unimpressed.
Treacy then turned and fired wide of the near post, before Stanislas fed Austin, whose shot was turned over by Jones.
Easton saw a shot held at the second attempt, but, disappointingly, in the last 10 minutes, the Clarets couldn’t create an effort of note as Peterborough comfortably held out.