Pep Guardiola had an eye on Tuesday's Champions League last-16 showdown with Monaco as he made eight changes to the side that beat Bournemouth 2-0 at the start of this week, but opposite number David Wagner also heeded on priorities elsewhere.
Huddersfield's XI displayed seven alterations ahead of a crunch clash with promotions rivals Reading in midweek but the hosts still settled more convincingly than their visitors.
Sergio Aguero sparked improvement from City after the break but too often their final ball and decision-making around the box lacked conviction, with Huddersfield never needing to repel the kind of onslaught they might have expected.
It leaves Guardiola facing an additional game following the first goalless draw of his tenure, having suggested at a pre-match news conference that FA Cup replays should be scrapped.
Claudio Bravo, back in the City goal following his demotion for Premier League games, made his first save in 47 days when Rajiv van La Parra finished a crisp move by firing too close to the Chile international.
Winger Jesus Navas had a shot cleared off the line by Huddersfield captain Mark Hudson and Aguero lifted a shot beyond the bar after goalkeeper Joel Coleman charged from his area in the 24th minute, but these were sporadic moments of encouragement amid a disjointed start to the contest.
Bravo was at full stretch to tip Jack Payne's free-kick over and Town had a goal chalked off from the resulting corner – Van La Parra impeding Bravo from an offside position when Philip Billing rifled in.
City forward Nolito swung a volley against the stanchion behind Coleman's right-hand post, although Huddersfield remained the more dynamic attacking force as Bravo denied Van La Parra once more.
Aguero orchestrated City's best move of the half five minutes before its close but was unable to get Fernandinho's return pass out of his feet and Coleman gathered his shot at the second attempt.
The Argentina star drove at the Huddersfield defence purposefully after the restart and forced Coleman into a more taxing stop low to his left.
Aguero, who is likely to have the chance to quell speculation over his future with a sustained run as Guardiola's attacking spearhead on the back of Gabriel Jesus' broken metatarsal, was at the heart of most of City's good work as Huddersfield's intensity dropped noticeably.
The breakthrough was still not forthcoming and City's boss called on Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane from the bench with 21 minutes to play.
Navas flashed a dangerous ball across the face of Huddersfield's goal but a finish was not forthcoming and that attack handily summarised the lack of cutting edge in attack that hindered City throughout a forgettable 90 minutes.