Crewe were relegated to League One despite a battling draw with Cardiff.
Jason Koumas curled home a fine equaliser for Cardiff
David Vaughan gave the home fans hope of survival with a 30-yard thunderbolt that flew past Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Alexander on 58 minutes.
But Sheffield Wednesday's 2-0 win at Brighton sealed Crewe's fate, no matter what the result was at Gresty Road.
That meant a fine equaliser from Jason Koumas, curled home right-footed, was largely irrelevant and merely served to rub salt into Crewe's wounds.
Crewe manager Dario Gradi:
"We'll go on, life goes on. It's actually exciting - that's the best way to look at it.
"We'll work hard and regroup. I've made some mistakes but I've done the best I could with what we have.
"The players are quiet in the dressing room and that's how it should be. They all know they have tried their best."
Cardiff manager Dave Jones:
"I don't take any pleasure whatsoever in doing our bit with Crewe relegated, it's not my fault today it's over a season.
"I've got a lot of time for Dario and I think he's done a fantastic job here - it's not a nice feeling for me and you just don't know what to say to him.
"It was a good game of football today and I think both sides tried to play it the right way."
Crewe: Turnbull, Otsemobor, Bougherra (McCready 85), Foster, Billy Jones, Lunt, Grant (Roberts 43), Vaughan, Steve Jones, Taylor, Rodgers (Johnson 76). Subs Not Used: Tomlinson, Varney.
Goals: Vaughan 58.
Cardiff: Alexander, Scimeca, Cox, Loovens, Ledley, Darlington, Koumas, Whitley (Blake 87), Parry, Thompson, Jerome. Subs Not Used: Margetson, Barker, Cooper, Ndumbu-Nsungu.
Goals: Koumas 76.
Ref: J Moss (West Yorkshire).