It was 30 years to the day since Palace, under Terry Venables, reached the top of the Football League for the only time in their history.
That vintage side would have been home and hosed by half-time but Neil Warnock could only watch as Lee, Paddy McCarthy and Darren Ambrose wasted glorious first-half chances.
Most of Wednesday's opportunities fell to Clarke, but the striker was also having one of those days in front of goal.
Clint Hill must have heard about Etienne Esajas' performance which tore Cardiff apart, as Palace's less-than-subtle left-back made his intentions clear by flattening the Dutch winger to earn a yellow card inside the first 10 seconds.
The rest of the Palace team were just as eager to make an early mark, but they proceeded to miss three gilt-edged chances in the opening stages.
First McCarthy blasted over from in front of goal, and then Ambrose missed his kick from virtually the same spot.
And worse was to come in the 12th minute when Victor Moses' chip into the area was met by an unmarked Lee, who somehow sidefooted the ball wide with the goal gaping.
Wednesday's first shots in anger did not arrive until just before the break, and neither were worth the wait, with Clarke finding the side-netting and firing an angled drive over the top.
Clarke had another pop after the break after Jose Fonte gave the ball away, but his shot was palmed away by Julian Speroni.
Esajas, who had been distinctly quiet since his early introduction to Hill, burst into life on the hour when cleverly sent clear by Lewis Buxton, but he cut the ball back for Clarke who could only skew his shot wide.
And Clarke was the guilty party again moments later when Speroni spilled Buxton's cross at his feet and the striker ballooned the loose ball over the top.
Owls boss Brian Laws had seen enough and brought off both strikers, Clarke and Varney, for Marcus Tudgay and Akpo Sodje.
Tudgay thought he had broken the deadlock with quarter of an hour remaining after Palace failed to deal with Darren Potter's free-kick but Danny Butterfield bravely cleared the substitute's shot off the line.
At the other end Neil Danns was a whisker away from opening the scoring when his drive was deflected narrowly wide, but in truth both sides could have played all night without finding the net.