Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is anticipating a "relentless" Sky Bet Championship season and was pleased his Cardiff side showed their resilience in a 1-1 draw against Blackburn.
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Some bookmakers have made the Bluebirds favourites to win the division, as they did in 2013, yet they did little to live up to that billing as the domestic campaign got under way at Ewood Park.
Although Kenwyne Jones nodded the visitors ahead 18 minutes in, Tom Cairney's 25-yard strike brought Rovers level before the break and they were in control of the second half, despite not troubling goalkeeper David Marshall.
Solskjaer changed his personnel and their positions in the second period but conceded they were poor in the final 45 minutes. Nevertheless, he was delighted with his defensive unit and thinks this point could look even more impressive come the season's conclusion in May.
"I'm very happy with a point away from home against one of the favourites (for promotion)," said the former Manchester United striker, who also revealed Gary Medel's move to Inter Milan could go through this weekend.
"When we add up the points in May hopefully that will prove important.
"It's been proved today that we've got characters to deal with these games. They know how important it is to come away with a one-each instead of a defeat. At the end, we could have gone for it and gone gung-ho but you don't do that."
Solskjaer is openly seeking another central defender, after Steven Caulker departed and Ben Turner sustained an injury, but highlighted the performances of Mark Hudson and Matt Connolly at the heart of the Bluebirds' defence.
"They are desperate to play football again," Solskjaer added of the duo.
"You can see they've really enjoyed tonight and the two of them were outstanding. This is going to be a relentless season with many, many games.
"The two of them had a hard 12 months with injuries so I can't expect them to turn out every Saturday and Tuesday for me. I need a centre-back in anyway."
Hudson's evening almost got off to a disastrous start when he handled Rudy Gestede's header inside the area in the first minute, yet referee Andrew Madley instead awarded a free-kick which Rovers wasted.
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer lamented that decision but expressed pride at the way his team came back, with striker Jordan Rhodes' slide challenge to create the space for Cairney's equaliser epitomising their spirit.
"I thought we deserved a bit more," said Bowyer, whose side's unbeaten run now stretches back 13 games to mid-March.
"In terms of the possession we had a lot of the ball against a team that's just come down from Premier League. I thought we played very well but we should have had a penalty in the first minute.
"We recovered very well from their goal; we were disappointed with that but then we score a fantastic goal. The lad (Cairney) has got a fantastic left foot. Cardiff changed shape, which was a compliment to us, but we can take a lot of confidence from the way we preformed."
Bowyer had to contend with a spate of injuries in the previous campaign and lost Matt Kilgallon at half-time with his fellow defender Tommy Spurr unfit to even make the squad.
That meant the likes of Jason Lowe and Alex Baptiste were shuffled around and their versatility delighted Bowyer.
Asked if a defender would be brought in, he said: "It's beg, borrow or steal now. We will try but, if not, we've got people that can go and play anywhere."