City ended a season of struggle unbeaten in eight games thanks to a battling point at Burnley despite playing for half an hour with Liam Fontaine in goal.
David James had been recalled to starting duties, but broke down injured on the hour. With no goalkeeper on the bench, Fontaine did the honours.
The defender-by-trade was eventually beaten by Danny Ings' stunning 76th minute strike, but City responded nine minutes from time with an eye-catching goal of their own from substitute Ryan Taylor - his first for the club.
Derek McInnes handed a first start and last City start of 2011/12 to young right-back Joe Edwards as one of six changes to his side who celebrated npower Championship survival with victory over Barnsley last time out.
As well as James in goal, Louis Carey, Jamie McAllister, Yannick Bolasie and Brett Pitman were also handed the chance to make a lasting impression ahead of the summer break.
Joe Edwards gets stuck after being recalled to the team
After a slow start, perhaps to be expected given neither team held any great incentive, City threatened through Pitman as the striker met Martyn Woolford's superb diagonal cross only to head straight at Burnley keeper Brian Jensen.
The lively Bolasie showed a clean pair of heels to the Clarets' back four either side of Ross Wallace firing high and wide of James' goal.
First, City's Young Player of the Year breezed past left-back Daniel Lafferty but found himself short of options upon reaching the by-line, before adopting the central route to provide Chris Wood with the best chance of the game only for the West Bromwich Albion loanee to be dispossessed by Lafferty as he prepared to pull the trigger.
It was still far from end to end stuff, but City were enjoying the better of the chances. Wood had another opportunity to break the deadlock but failed to apply enough purchase on his glancing header from a McAllister cross.
Ryan Taylor is mobbed after finding the back of the net
Despite looking so comfortable, City should have been behind when Charlie Austin cut inside Fontaine but somehow placed his shot wide of James' left-hand post after some incisive build-up play from the hosts.
Burnley improved immediately after the interval, with Fontaine called upon to block a ferocious goal-bound shot before James held on to Marvin Bartley's rising drive at the second attempt.
Austin came close again with a header back across goal, but his effort was always short of power and allowed the City stalwart to collect quite comfortably. Then Wallace cracked a left-footer just wide of the near post when he cut inside from the right as Eddie Howe's side continued to press.
But City came close to taking the lead against the run of play when Woolford hooked Wood's header back across goal only for David Edgar to intervene with a last-ditch header over his own crossbar with Jensen stranded.