The Bantams have some work to do if they want to book a second visit to Wembley of the season after suffering a home defeat at the hands of Burton Albion in their League 2 Play-Off First Leg encounter.
Phil Parkinson's men found themselves two goals down within the first half hour of the match thanks to two well-taken goals from Calvin Zola before Nahki Wells reduced City's deficit near the end of the first period from the penalty spot.
There was still time in the half, however, for Robbie Weir to establish Burton's two-goal lead once more just before the break with a great finish inside the area from Alex MacDonald's low cross.
After a relatively quiet opening period by their standards, City dug in during the second half and twice could have netted a second in the game through Wells.
The Bantams did eventually get a goal back sixteen minutes from the end when Garry Thompson crashed in an unstoppable shot from outside the area.
Despite six minutes of injury time, City couldn't quite drag themselves back on level terms but Thompson's late thunderbolt still could prove vital when the sides meet again this Sunday for the second leg.
With large parts of the Coral Windows Stadium packed to the rafters by kick off, City were met by a wall of noise as they entered the field to begin their Play-Off adventure.
City were unable to get the early foothold in the match they would undoubtedly have been hoping for, however, and they were hit with the blow of conceding first.
Twenty-two minutes were just about on the clock when Zola was on hand to head home Jacques Maghoma's teasing left wing cross.
Stunned from Zola's opening blow, City fell further behind six minutes later when the giant striker turned away from Rory McArdle inside the area before finishing expertly with a fine angled drive into the far corner of Jon McLaughlin's goal.
Replays seem to suggest that Zola was clearly offside following Zander Diamond's ball forward to the striker but there was no doubting the quality of the finish.
Importantly for City though, Parkinson's side didn't take too long to respond as they were awarded a penalty when Damien McCrory handled a goal-bound strike from Thompson inside the area eight minutes before the break.
McCrory seemed to throw his arms at the ball to deliberately block the shot but to the amazement of the City camp, the defender wasn't even shown a yellow card for the offence.
Wells coolly slotted the resulting penalty away to fire the Bantams back in it but Burton weren't finished either unfortunately as Weir fired in the visitors' third of the night on the stroke of half time.
Weir was teed up by a low cross from MacDonald from the byline and the midfielder completed the move with a fierce drive that beat McLaughlin at his near post.
Clearly in need to chase the game after the restart, Parkinson brought on Kyel Reid and Nathan Doyle early into the second period in an attempt to change his side's fortunes.
Wells enjoyed a great chance to pull a goal back for City just past the hour mark when he latched onto Diamond's poor attempted header back towards Stuart Tomlinson.
The Bermudian's connection when through on goal wasn't clear though and the 'keeper could block the effort away.
Wells found himself on the end of another promising opening ten minutes later but this time he could only scuff a first time effort wide from inside the six yard box after finding himself unmarked at the far post following a Gary Jones corner.
Just two minutes later, however, City were back in it when Thompson let rip with a thunderous drive from just outside the area that flew past the helpless Thompson before crashing into the net behind him.
City nearly had the wind taken out of their sails when MacDonald clipped the top of McLaughlin's crossbar shortly after Thompson's stunner, but the final plays of the game were all about whether the Bantams could complete the comeback and get the tie back all-square.
The Bantams' best chance to do that came in the third minute of injury time when James Meredith's low cross found Hanson in the box but the striker dragged a shot wide of goal.
FT: Bradford City 2 Burton Albion 3
90+3min: Meredith's low cross into the area eventually finds Hanson over by the far post but his scuffed effort from around eight yards out bounces harmlessly wide.
90min: There will be six minutes of time added on at the end of the first leg.
89min: SUB - The Brewers bring on Adam Drury for MacDonald.
89min: SUB - The Bantams bring on Alan Connell for Wells.
87min: Nelson heads a few yards over the bar following Jones' free-kick into the area from a wide position.
85min: YELLOW CARD - MacDonald is booked for a late tackle on Reid over by the touchline on City's left flank.
79min: YELLOW CARD - Tomlinson is booked for delaying play restarting after Burton are awarded a free-kick inside City's half. Tomlinson, the only player inside Burton's half of the pitch, simply stands there and refuses to kick the ball up to the part of the pitch where the free-kick is going to be taken from.
78min: Wells fizzes in a 25 yard free-kick that flies a couple of yards over Tomlinson's goal.
77min: CHANCE - Maghoma's low centre across goal eventually finds MacDonald over on the far side of the area. The attacker takes aim from around fourteen yards out before firing a rising drive that clips the top of McLaughlin's bar.
76min: Wells curls an effort for goal from the edge of the area that the back-tracking Tomlinson keeps out before just about preventing the ball from crossing the line as well.
74min: GOAL!!!!! Bradford City 2 Burton Albion 3 - The Bantams are back in it again! Thompson lets rip with a stunning strike from around 20 yards out that whistles past Tomlinson's dive before crashing into the roof of the net.
72min: CHANCE! Wells misses a promising opportunity when Jones' delivery from the resulting corner eventually falls into his path inside the six yard box. Turning on the ball, Wells shoots almost instantly but his effort is sliced and flies horribly wide.
71min: Wells sees his effort for goal from around eight yards out is blocked behind by Holness following Thompson low cross to the near post from the byline.
69min: Doyle takes aim from distance but his effort is wild and flies into the Kop.
68min: SUB - Burton bring on Billy Kee for Zola.
63min: CHANCE! - Wells latches onto a poor attempted header back to Tomlinson from Zander Diamond to see the Bermudian beat the 'keeper to the loose ball and place himself through on goal. Wells tries to knock the ball between Tomlinson's legs but the 'keeper makes a vital block. Thompson fires the loose ball back into the mix with a cross-come-shot that just evades the outstretched leg of Wells in the middle and flashes a yard or so wide of the far post.
62min: Maghoma tumbles in the box under pressure from McArdle but referee Mr James Adcock waves away Burton's shouts for a penalty.
58min: McLaughlin has to spring across low to left to prevent a drive from just outside the area from McGrath from sneaking in.
57min: SUBS - The Bantams bring on Kyel Reid and Nathan Doyle for Atkinson and Ricky Ravenhill respectively.
50min: Atkinson is back on the pitch now complete with his new numberless 'blood' shirt.
50min: Zola jumps above Stephen Darby and McArdle to reach MacDonald's far post cross but his header flies a couple of yards wide.
47min: City currently down to ten men with Atkinson off the pitch as he receives treatment for a bloody nose.
46min: The Bantams restart the match.
HT: Bradford City 1 Burton Albion 3
45+3min: Maghoma fires a low drive from distance a yard or so wide of goal.
45+2min: After wrestling for possession of the ball by the byline with Holness, Wells produces a smart bicycle cross that actually ends not too far away from bouncing in over by Tomlinson's far post.
45min: There will be three minutes of time added on at the end of the first half.
44min: GOAL - Bradford City 1 Burton Albion 3 - City have it all to do again unfortunately as Alex MacDonald's low cross to the neat post is slammed home from around ten yards out by Robbie Weir.
40min: On the stretch trying to reach Hanson,s lay-off, Jones can only fire wide with a rising drive from around 20 or so yards out.
37min: GOAL!!!!! - Bradford City 1 Burton Albion 2 - The Bantams are back in as Wells coolly slots the ball into the corner!
36min: PENALTY TO THE BANTAMS! - City have a spot-kick when Damien McCrory is adjudged to have blocked a Thompson shot with his hand in the area. Hanson's neat lay-off to McArdle inside the area starts the ball rolling as he finds the defender in plenty of shooting space. The defender unfortunately produces an air kick but Thompson is on hand to pounce on the loose ball and produce the shot that McCrory would handle.
35min: YELLOW CARD - Marcus Holness is booked for taking out Thompson out on City's right flank.
34min: CHANCE - McLaughlin makes a great block to prevent City going further behind. A great ball through from Robbie Weir plays McGrath in with a clear sight on goal but McLaughlin makes himself big to produce a vital save.
33min: A sliced attempted clearance by John McGrath sees the ball fall back into his area following a Thompson long throw. Nahki Wells stretches to reach the ball but his flicked effort for goal rolls wide.
31min: McArdle connects with another wide Jones free-kick into the area but his free header is blocked away.
28min: GOAL - Bradford City 0 Burton Albion 2 - Some trouble for City here now as Zola grabs his second of the game. The giant striker turns away from McArdle in the area before curling a delightful effort into the far corner of McLaughlin's net. There appears to be some suggestion that Zola was offside when he originally received the ball but their is not disputing the quality of the finish.
27min: Rory McArdle heads a good few yards over the bar after meeting with a wide Gary Jones free-kick floated into the area.
23min: A long kick forward from Tomlinson eventually falls into the path of MacDonald around the edge of City's area. The attacker stoops to header the ball goalwards but his effort is tame and straight at McLaughlin.
22min: GOAL - Bradford City 0 Burton Albion 1 - City are stunned as Burton take the lead. Jacques Maghoma sends over a cross from Burton left flank and Zola is on hand to head home.
18min: With a yard or so of shooting space available to him, Zola turns on the ball around 25 yards out and fires forward but his effort is well wayward and sails into the packed Kop behind McLaughlin's net.
12min: James Hanson beats Anthony O'Connor in the air just outside Burton's penalty area to flick the ball forward but Will Atkinson's first time effort on the volley from the edge of the box rolls harmlessly wide of Stuart Tomlinson's near post.
9min: Calvin Zola beats Michael Nelson in the air to flick the ball into the path of Alex MacDonald but the attacker, who has James Meredith and Rory McArdle putting him under pressure, can only fire weakly at Jon McLaughlin from the edge of the area.
6min: Garry Thompson cuts inside from a wide position and away from the attentions of Damien McCrory but his rising angled drive from inside the area is headed up and out for a corner by Burton defender Ian Sharps.
0min: Burton kick off the match. City will attack towards the T.L Dallas Stand end in the first half.
7:46pm: The Coral Windows Stadium is literally rocking as the game is set to get underway.
BRADFORD CITY LINE UP