Malky Mackay's catchphrase is "monotonous consistency", so this was a case of the glass half-full for the Cardiff manager. The game was monotonous from the first minute to the last, but consistency was missing from the Championship leaders, who dropped points at home for the second time this season and failed to score for the first time since 21 August.
Full credit to Ipswich, whose resurgence continues under Mick McCarthy's restorative management. Thrashed 6-0 by Leicester and 5-0 by Crystal Palace, their improvement has been such that they won three on the trot against Nottingham Forest, Bolton and Millwall in November and December before gaining a deserved point here.
Since McCarthy replaced Paul Jewell at the beginning of November, they have lost four out of 14 and they would have won on Saturday had not substitute Frank Nouble, on debut, spurned the best chance of the game in stoppage time, shooting wastefully wide from left to right.
McCarthy said: "I'm still looking behind me, the table can change so quickly in this league. A revival is one thing, but we don't want the patient to die, we want to survive."
Cardiff were poor, yet they are now more secure than ever in the automatic promotion places, 10 points clear of third-placed Leicester. Mackay pointed out that Ipswich were on top of the current form guide and added: "If we hadn't worked as hard as we did we'd have lost. The hard work of both teams negated chances. This was our fourth clean sheet in the last five Championship games, and I'm delighted with that."
The match was as cheerless as the weather, with neither goalkeeper called upon to make a save, and neither team managing a shot or header on target. The closest anybody came was in the 15th minute, when Senegal's Guirane N'Daw, borrowed from St Etienne, thundered a shot against David Marshall's right-hand post from 30 yards. Cardiff's best chance saw Craig Bellamy mishit his shot from near the penalty spot.
The Welsh club's fans were left wondering whether it was such a good idea to rest the first team when they went out of the FA Cup at Macclesfield last Saturday. The intention was to keep the players fresh to resume the promotion push, but they were nowhere near their best against resolute, well drilled opposition.
It is an unusual fact that for a team charging away at the top of the table, no player has scored more than seven league goals for Cardiff. At Crystal Palace, for example, Glenn Murray has rattled in 22. A prolific scorer is the one thing Mackay lacks, and after Rudy Gestede's dismal showing here, where he was substituted at half-time, Mackay will step up his efforts to replace principal striker Nicky Maynard, who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. Bolton's Marvin Sordell is a known target.
McCarthy has been changing faces more often than Rory Bremner, bringing in four players on loan during the January window to go with the four he already had. Nigel Reo-Coker, who was on a short-term contract, has made his last appearance for the club and the manager said he was looking for a couple of permanent reinforcements before the window closes.