Stanley fell at the first hurdle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as they were beaten by a late Chuks Aneke header on Tuesday night.
League One Crewe know the value of the competition having gone all the way to Wembley last season, beating Southend 2-0 in the final.
And while Stanley’s interest in this season’s competition is already over, it was not for the want of trying.
Manager James Beattie made just three changes after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Burton, resting goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, Peter Murphy and Kal Naismith.
And while young keeper Ben Wilson was handed his Stanley debut, the return of Danny Webber after his three-match ban hardly weakened the Reds’ line-up. Luke Clark also returned in the right-back role he fulfilled against Cardiff.
Lee Molyneux, Stanley's player of the year last season, was named on the Crewe bench and had to watch his old club get the better of his new employers in the first half.
James Gray hit an early shot across goal before Webber found Michael Liddle on the overlap and although Michael Richardson fired his cross back across keeper Steve Phillips, a Crewe defender had covered to clear off the line.
Liddle and Webber then combined again to work a shooting opportunity for captain Luke Joyce, whose 25-yard strike was turned over by Phillips.
Liddle delivered several teasing crosses from the left, one of which was headed wide by Richardson, and moments later Shay McCartan’s dipping shot went just over.
Crewe finally managed to press Stanley back and when Ryan Colclough’s corner was headed down, Aneke fired wide on the turn.
George Miller replaced Joyce at half-time for his first appearance of the season but the hosts came out in more determined mood, Max Clayton skewing his shot wide from Colclough’s through-ball.
Miller then exchanged passes with Piero Mingoia down the right but his cut-back was dragged wide by Richardson.
Molyneux then came on in the 65th minute and the first time he got the ball he tried his luck from 35 yards, as he so often did to devastating effect during the Reds’ push for League Two safety. This time, though, his shot fizzed just over.
Rob Atkinson made an important block after Brad Inman cut in from the right, and moments after Stanley made their final substitution, Liddle went down with an ankle injury.
With Liddle receiving treatment on the touchline and his team-mates still adjusting to his absence, Richardson’s pass was cut out just in front of the Stanley box.
Molyneux found Matt Tootle out wide and from the area Liddle would have been occupying, he crossed for Aneke to score in the 79th minute with a towering header at the far post.
Physio Paul Morgan had to help Liddle round to the technical area, making it the second time already this season that the Reds had finished with 10 men due to injury.
With that the case, Stanley were unable to press for an equaliser and AJ Leitch-Smith almost doubled the winning margin in stoppage time, which would have been harsh on Beattie’s men.
Stanley: B. Wilson 6, Clark 7, Aldred 7, Atkinson 7, Liddle 7, Mingoia 7, Richardson 8, Joyce 7 (Miller 46, 7), Gray 8, McCartan 7 (Mahoney 61, 6), Webber 7 (Hatfield 68, 6). Subs: Jenkins, Bettinelli.