The lack of attacking threat was clear to see in a frustrating afternoon at Turf Moor, where brief spells of possession failed to provide enough penetration to trouble the Burnley goal.
Sunderland started poorly and were on the back foot from the start, looking reticent in attack and slow in tempo, only broken by close attempts from Emanuele Giaccherini and Jack Rodwell. The shape of the side looked worryingly disjointed, with Giaccherini having to cover a marauding Patrick van Aanholt at left back and Santiago Vergini not looking as convincing so far in his second term on loan.
Brown and O'Shea at centre-back looked ruffled throughout the game, and perhaps the worst moment came on the 36th minute when a poor pass from Brown almost gifted a one on one chance for the home side, before a quick Vito Mannone came to clear.
The second half began with more promise for the Black Cats, with Adam Johnson being moved to the right to trouble the Clarets' left back Ben Mee. It almost provided the impetus, with Johnson trying to repeat his shimmy through to goal of last week against Spurs on the 50th minute, but was blocked by a rigid Burnley defence.
It is a sign of our lack of strength in attack that Sunderland's best chances came from midfield, and it continued through the remainder of the match. Jack Rodwell on the 52nd minute tested Tom Heaton from distance, who almost parried it into the path of Connor Wickham before he was able to recover. A little later a quick counter attack almost found Rodwell with an open goal, but Jason Shackell was able to clear the pass from Giaccherini.
The midfield, though, shouldn't be spared from blame, as the service was often wayward and infrequent, especially from the centre. Late substitutions to bring on Jordi Gomez and Will Buckley hoped to give the away side better options, but the decision to take off Adam Johnson for Jozy Altidore was a strange one which proved costly. The American's consistently poor touches, runs and communication with the rest of the team meant that any attacking movement became difficult.
Burnley have made a sound enough start to their Premier League campaign; despite lacking goals and victories they are compact in defence and made some genuinely dangerous counter attacks. Former Middlesbrough striker Lukas Jutkiewicz was much the physical presence Sunderland fans would want Jozy Altidore to be and gave Brown and O'Shea many problems, coming close on the 77th minute forcing a great save from Vito Mannone, ten minutes after a reflex denied a Scott Arfield shot creeping in at the near post. With a fit Danny Ings maybe they would have profited more from their late spell of movement.
Sunderland's best chance came in stoppage time, with a thunderous shot from distance by Van Aanholt hit the keeper and the frame of the goal twice before going out of play. As it was, Sunderland should be reflecting on a 0-0 draw which perhaps ultimately flattered the team.