No goals, some wonderfully cohesive passing from a Swansea City side who somehow kept failing to finish what they started and a reality check for Sunderland.
Despite a mild second-half revival Martin O'Neill's recently renascent players trudged off well aware that, after failing to aim a single shot on target, they owed their point to two things. First came a late, glaring miss on Nathan Dyer's part and then Titus Bramble's fabulous stoppage-time block which denied Danny Graham the most poignant of bittersweet winners.
There is something intensely therapeutic about watching the gorgeous geometry of those prolonged passing sequences Michael Laudrup's players specialise in and early bouts of compulsive visiting pass and move resulted in Dyer curling one shot wide, Michu directing another over the bar and Simon Mignolet diving sharply to save from Chico Flores.
Sunderland struggled to interrupt the revolving interplay which saw Michu, Dyer and the Israel international Itay Shechter – who might have had a penalty when John O'Shea clipped him – rotate attacking positions with bewildering rapidity.
Those Swansea fans who made the 350-mile trek north east must have wondered if this would be their final glimpse of Graham wearing white. The subject of a £5m bid from O'Neill, the striker started as a substitute. "I really don't know what will happen with Danny in the next couple of days," said Laudrup. "And I'd rather not try to guess."
O'Neill had other things on his mind. "We played very disappointingly," said Sunderland's manager. "Swansea really dictated it and we laboured." After four wins in their previous six Premier League games, better had been expected.
Instead the free-kick Craig Gardner delivered towards Row X seemed emblematic of a regression to dead-ball dependence, sporadic counterattacking and significant underachievement from Adam Johnson.
Admittedly Sunderland improved a little in the second half but they remained slightly static, seemed incapable of crossing the ball and created little. That said, it took a fine interception from Flores to halt Stéphane Sessègnon in his attacking tracks as the Wearsiders' newfound ability to hog some of the possession finally had Laudrup on his feet and out in his technical area.
Suddenly an albeit temporarily increased tempo from the home side had Swansea rattled. Fletcher displayed an adhesive first touch to control Bramble's long ball before falling under an Ashley Davies challenge but, much to the crowd's chagrin, the referee waved play on. Laudrup realised the time had come to tighten his formation a little and introduced Ki Sung-yueng at Shechter's expense.
Shortly afterwards O'Neill sacrificed a defensive midfielder in Albert N'Diaye for James McClean's skills as a winger, but it was another newly-arrived substitute, Roland Lamah, who nearly broke the deadlock. After intercepting Sebastian Larsson's slapdash pass, Lamah was left one-on-one against Mignolet but the goalkeeper dashed boldly off his line, smothering the ball at the newcomer's feet.
Graham then replaced Britton, prompting a chorus of boos from locals possibly well aware of his boyhood allegiance to Sunderland's deadliest rivals. "It was a natural reaction," said O'Neill. "He's a Newcastle fan; I don't know what will happen in the next 48 hours."
Whatever Graham felt about the crowd's reaction though, he cannot have been anywhere near as disappointed as Dyer at the end. Set up by Michu, the Englishman shot inexplicably wide with the goal gaping, leaving Laudrup and virtually every visiting player with heads in hands. Something similar happened when Bramble thwarted Graham.
"I'm very, very pleased with the performance but we should have won," said Laudrup. "We were in total control of the first half and in the last 20 minutes we had two huge chances. Sunderland had no chances at all."