Southgate's men failed to force a save in the first period but came close to the opener just before half-time as Dier met Henderson's corner with a glancing header that hit the far post.
What it did prove, as if there were any doubts, is football is nothing without fans.
In front of the empty stands, Marcus Rashford missed two glorious chances to exact England a small measure of revenge for missing out on the World Cup final to Croatia 93 days ago in Moscow. I am pleased with the chances we created, and we just have to make sure we finish them, which on another day we will.
Hornets midfielder Chalobah had to settle for a watching brief from the bench in Rijeka but Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, who left Vicarage Road for Manchester City in 2014, became the second youngest England player to win his first cap in a competitive game behind the legendary Duncan Edwards when he replaced Raheem Sterling in the 78th minute.
England manager Gareth Southgate was disappointed with the outcome, saying: "Second half we were by far the better team and if we had taken our chances we would have won the game".
As a one-off 90-minute experience it was fascinating as the sparse gallery listened to the constant cajoling of Pickford, heard Jordan Henderson ask Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was he the referee in less than complimentary terms, and discover Southgate's squad have a distinctly unimaginative line in nicknames.
Chilwell was sharp in challenges, sound with his distribution and produced a high quality first-half cross that nearly brought a goal for Raheem Sterling. It did, though, have an impact on the game as a whole, with the home side especially feeling the effects of the muted atmosphere.
The UEFA Nations League match between Croatia and England will be broadcast on ESPN 2.
With no fervent crowd to contend against, England did not have to endure the hostility that can unnerve even the most experienced of performers.
"We're not quite there yet in that aspect, in the way they keep the ball". "Harry will get us goals". "We should have been more ruthless".