Promoter Eddie Hearn had challenged the Scottish fighter to send out a statement against the unbeaten Montenegrin. The message which came across was far from positive, though, as Zlaticanin secured a split-decision points win despite looking like the clear winner.
Hearn had secured a World Boxing Council eliminator in Burns' first fight since losing his World Boxing Organization belt to Terence Crawford but it was the visitor who moved closer to fighting champion Omar Figueroa. Burns has instead been left facing an uncertain future.
He was on the floor within 30 seconds when southpaw Zlaticanin - who had knocked out 13 of his previous 18 opponents - caught him with a counter left hook. The two-weight world champion looked shaken as he got up after the eight count and his diminutive opponent kept up his momentum.
Burns appeared in danger of being stuck on the ropes during the early rounds, with Zlaticanin's left hook causing the Scot problems throughout the fight for the vacant WBC International title.
The Coatbridge fighter managed to put together some combinations but none which troubled his opponent, who often responded with an intense flurry of punches.
Another left hook had Burns in trouble in the fifth round and, just when the 31-year-old excited the Braehead Arena crowd with a decent right hook in the next round, Zlaticanin soon forced him back again. The Montenegrin, fighting outside of the Balkans for the first time in his career, continued to throw the more dangerous punches.
Zlaticanin was awarded the win by 115-113 on two scorecards with one judge, John King, giving Burns the victory by the same score. However, there was no sense of injustice among the home crowd.
The Scottish support had something to celebrate earlier in the night at least. Willie Limond achieved his British title dream at the third attempt with a stylish performance against Curtis Woodhouse. The 35-year-old Scot twice floored his opponent with upper cuts on his way to a points victory to take the British light-welterweight belt.
Limond, who retained his Commonwealth title in the process, was eight points ahead on the referee's scorecard and five ahead with one of the judges, with the other scoring a draw unexpectedly.
Woodhouse - who retired briefly after taking the title from Darren Hamilton in February - felt that a period of relative inactivity in recent years would count against Limond. Instead the Scot showcased impressive timing and skill on his way to victory.
Stephen Simmons also retained his WBC International Silver Cruiserweight belt earlier in the night, stopping Wadi Camacho in the 10th round of their bout. The pair had to be separated at pre-fight press conferences - Simmons accused his opponent of posting photos of his fiancee's face on to obscene images on social media - but appeared to have settled their differences following a decisive left hook from the Scot.