Danny Graham had not scored for two clubs in 11 months since leaving Swansea last January but the immutable law of the ex struck at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night when he gave Hull an early lead, only for his former team-mates to claim a point with an involuntary, contentious equaliser from Chico Flores.

Graham endured a barren spell with Sunderland after joining them from the Swans for £3m and had been firing blanks for Hull, who have him on loan, until his ninth-minute strike here. Generously the Liberty crowd joined in the applause for a player whose goals kept them in the Premier League but they were left ruing a lacklustre performance and a result that leaves them with only two wins from their past 10 matches.

Hull, naturally, were delighted with what was only their fourth point from a possible 24 away from home. That said, Steve Bruce felt they should have had a penalty for handball by Dwight Tiendalli and pointed out that the Swansea goal went in off Flores's hand.

Of the way in which Tiendalli repelled Alex Bruce's header in the box , Bruce Sr said: "The boy has practically caught the ball, signed it and kicked it into the crowd, so of course I'm disappointed but we were away from home and these things happen. For their goal, I know from the TV replay that Flores punched it in but we can forgive that because nobody saw it at the time."

Swansea were poor and will have to play better than this against St Gallen in Switzerland on Thursday if they are to progress to the knockout stage of the Europa League. In mitigation they were beset by injuries, which left them without Michel Vorm, Angel Rangel, Wilfried Bony, Leon Britton and Alvaro Vazquez, but they did have Michu fit to return as the focal point of their attack, much good it did them. Not for the first time lately the Spaniard was a pale shadow of the striker who terrorised Premier League defences last season.

Hull, promoted as runners-up, have found goals hard to come by, averaging less than one per game. They had lost three of their previous four matches but, if the Tigers have been without attacking teeth, they have nevertheless clawed their way into mid-table. Against opponents who favour a single striker, Steve Bruce deployed a 3-5-2 formation and could claim to have won the tactical battle. It was one of his wing-backs, Ahmed Elmohamady, who was instrumental in the opening goal, his cross from the right picking out Graham close in at the far post, where his cool finish belied that long barren run.

"Certainly the goal has been a long-time coming," Graham said. "I wanted to go crazy [when I scored] but I had a good relationship with the Swansea fans and had good times down here so I was never going to celebrate if I scored."

Swansea huffed and puffed in search of equality and Ben Davies produced a decent shot from distance, but their customary passing game lacked pace and precision and was easily countered by assiduous defence, notably from Bruce's phalanx of centre-halves, who never lacked support. With a precious lead to protect, Hull withdrew 10 men behind the ball at the first hint of trouble, challenging Swansea to break them down. With one dodgy exception, it was a task that proved beyond the home side.

The half-time stats said it all. Swansea enjoyed 67% of the possession, yet failed to produce a shot on target. Their distribution was too laboured to negotiate a route through Hull's five men in midfield where, without Britton, they were ineffective. Michael Laudrup said: "We didn't play anywhere near as well as we can. Our passing in midfield was too slow."

The Swansea equaliser, after an hour, was fortuitous in the extreme. Jonjo Shelvey's centre from the left hit Flores' hand five yards out and flew in past the startled Allan McGregor.

Belatedly the Swans stirred themselves and went for the win but Hull should have had their penalty midway through the second half, when the referee's conclusion that Tiendalli's contact was unintentional was dubious at best. Hull enjoyed a short purple patch during which David Meyler had the ball in the net, only to have his celebration curtailed by an offside flag, and the impressive Yannick Sagbo demanded a vital save from Gerhard Tremmel with a resounding shot from the edge of the D.

Back came Swansea, and it took a top-class save by McGregor to deny them, the goalkeeper sprawling to keep out Michu's drive. Laudrup admitted, however, that a win would have flattered his team.