Goals in either half from Curtis Davies and Peter Whittingham ensured two of the Barclays Premier League's newcomers shared the spoils at the KC Stadium.
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It was a replay of the match that ensured Hull promotion on the final day of last season, but there was significantly less drama on show this time around.
Davies headed home Tom Huddlestone's cross in the 40th minute to give the Tigers their first goal from open play this season, with Whittingham levelling just before the hour mark to cap a fine Cardiff move.
It was probably a fair result, neither side doing quite enough to take proceedings by the scruff of the neck, though as the home side Hull will probably view it a chance missed in their bid for survival.
They tried to bring West Brom's Shane Long to the club on deadline day and the need for another option up front was apparent as Danny Graham laboured for the duration - and missed two good chances - with no realistic options on the bench.
Hull were able to name goalkeeper Allan McGregor in their starting XI after he recovered from the groin injury that ruled him out of Scotland duty last week.
Frustratingly for Cardiff their number one David Marshall stood in for McGregor against Macedonia but sustained a hip injury in the process, leaving Joe Lewis to start for the Bluebirds.
Further up the pitch Malky Mackay handed Kevin Theophile-Catherine his first start in place of Craig Bellamy and was rewarded by a muscular performance from the Frenchman.
Just six minutes had gone when a cooler finish from Graham would have put Hull in front.
Jake Livermore and Sone Aluko combined well before the latter's shot was palmed away by Lewis, and although Graham was in the right place to convert the rebound his first-time effort from eight yards was well off target.
Hull were enjoying most of the possession, but looked vulnerable when Cardiff broke.
Kim Bo-kyung saw a decent penalty appeal against James Chester waved away in the 16th minute and was a lively presence linking midfield and attack.
Aluko was afforded the same role for Hull and twice got shots away when the away defence stood off him, though both went wide of the near post.
Fraizer Campbell, who turned Hull down for Cardiff, was playing the role of pantomime villain and earned a booking for a messy lunge at Chester - much to the fans' approval.
With half an hour gone Cardiff stirred, Whittingham finding Gary Medel surging into the box. It was a smart piece of play from both men but the Chilean's touch was heavy and the ball skidded on to McGregor.
Nine minutes later Hull took the lead.
Huddlestone's driven effort forced a corner, which Lewis punched out but only as far as the former Tottenham midfielder on the right touchline.
With men still forward, Huddlestone whipped in a superb cross that dipped and bounced to leave the defence flat-footed.
Davies was more alert and reacted fastest to head home from six yards.
There was one change at the interval, Kim replaced by Nicky Maynard.
It took Cardiff five minutes to muster their first real chance of the half, Aron Gunnarsson sending a dangerous looking shot into a crowded area where Livermore was on hand to block.
Hull took their time to respond but did so when Aluko won a free-kick in the right channel having hunted down Huddlestone's lofted pass.
Huddlestone dragged the set-piece across the area for Robert Koren, but his strike was charged down.
The equaliser arrived just before the hour mark, a couple of brisk one-touch passes giving Don Cowie room to deliver the perfect cross for the sprinting Whittingham.
His run was timed ideally and left him to finish calmly from eight yards.
One almost brought two when, moments later, Gunnarsson headed wide from a good position following strong work from Theophile-Catherine.
Mackay's side were rejuvenated and Bruce's response was send on Stephen Quinn for this Republic of Ireland team-mate Robbie Brady.
He was quickly into the action, blocking Cowie as he ran into the box - but doing so legally according to the referee.
Graham was still struggling to make an impact, but won a corner after Huddlestone's perseverance gave him a rare sight of goal.
It was, at least, a sign of a new period of pressure from Hull, which led to Aluko coverting Quinn's cross only for an offside flag to deny him.
Graham might have won it with a header in added time but could only leave Lewis with a straightforward save.