Goals from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric condemned a patched-up Wales side to a valiant 2-0 defeat in Sunday night's international friendly in Croatia.
Rakitic undid a fine Wales first-half showing with a stunning strike just before the interval and substitute Gabric wrapped up victory late on.
Yet Wales, denied the services of 15 senior players, could look back on their performance in Osijek with pride and Simon Church was unlucky to have a goal disallowed.
Wales had travelled with a squad of just 17 and their depleted resources meant John Toshack could name only six substitutes - all of whom saw some action - compared to the 10 listed by opposite number Slaven Bilic.
Yet given such a fraught build-up to the game, with Toshack having to cope with eight withdrawals from his initial squad, Wales acquitted themselves well.
Toshack made seven changes to the side beaten by Sweden in March, with St Mirren's Andy Dorman, who had failed to feature despite being named in two previous squads, handed a debut from the start.
The hosts created their first chance in the second minute as Ognjen Vukojevic fired wide from the edge of the area before Mario Mandzukic tested Wayne Hennessey only to be flagged offside. Experienced captain Dario Srna went close with a curling free-kick from the edge of the area that dipped just over the bar.
Wales thought they had claimed a surprise lead as Chris Gunter's ball from the left was turned in, Church claiming the final touch. But the Reading striker's celebrations for what would have been his second international goal were cut short, however, by an offside flag.
But pressure eventually told as Croatia took the lead with a superb strike from Rakitic on the stroke of half-time. Rakitic found the net from 30 yards with a curling effort after combining with Nikica Jelavic.
Croatia remained the dominant side but they did not make victory safe until the 82nd minute when Luka Modric cut open the Wales defence with a superb ball and Gabric raced clean through to fire low past Boaz Myhill.