Hart fully justified his new status as City and England number one with a succession of world-class saves before half-time to deny Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, while Gareth Bale also hit the post.
City's multi-million-pound summer signings struggled in the opening 45 minutes but finally turned up after the break, with Shaun Wright-Phillips having the best chance for Roberto Mancini's side - although Bale missed a golden chance to snatch victory for Spurs.
Hart got the nod of Shay Given in the City goal, while the visitors also handed competitive debuts to Yaya Toure, David Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov.
Mario Balotelli, who only completed his move from Inter Milan on Friday, was not in the squad, with Carlos Tevez captaining the side and starting up front on his own.
In stark contrast to City's summer spending spree, Spurs' only new recruit - Sandro - had yet to arrive from Internacional.
But Harry Redknapp's men had been good enough to deny Saturday's opponents a top-four spot in May, winning at the City of Manchester Stadium to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.
Anything less than that for City this term would not be tolerated by their mega-rich owners.
A fast and frenetic opening saw a half-chance on the volley for Wright-Phillips and a Peter Crouch header kept out by Hart.
Crouch was proving a handful, setting up the first clear-cut opportunity in the 11th minute with a header back across goal from Aaron Lennon's cross.
Jermain Defoe swivelled to fire goalward at point-blank range but Hart somehow kept the ball out and Ledley King was thwarted on the rebound.
Hart sprang sideways to repel Tom Huddlestone's hooked 25-yard volley moments before producing an even better save to keep out Benoit Assou-Ekotto's viciously-deflected piledriver.
Vincent Kompany earned the first yellow card for bringing down Defoe 25 yards from goal and a Michael Dawson slip in the box almost let in Tevez but Ledley King snuffed out the danger.
Hart rescued City again seconds later when Kompany was beaten to the ball by Defoe.
The City keeper was finally beaten on the half-hour but the post came to his rescue to keep out Bale's 12-yard drive and Kompany managed to block Lennon's follow-up.
City broke and Yaya Toure drilled wide from 20 yards before a wonderful crossfield ball from Assou-Ekotto sent Defoe clean through.
Hart's legs did enough to keep the ball out and Kolarov just beat Defoe to the rebound.
A peach of a cross from Bale evaded everyone before Yaya Toure's deflected drive forced the first real save from Heurelho Gomes.
Kompany escaped a second yellow card moments before the break despite a cynical foul on Defoe.
Spurs paraded the majority of their 1961 double-winning side at half-time, during which City withdrew the injured Kolarov for Pablo Zabaleta.
The visitors should have taken the lead inside a minute, Yaya Toure brilliantly picking out the diagonal run of Wright-Phillips.
But the winger's first touch let him down and Assou-Ekotto recovered to nick the ball to safety.
Yaya Toure was making inroads and Silva and Tevez both saw shots blocked from another fine ball as light rain began to fall in north London.
Zabaleta was booked for felling Lennon on the right touchline but otherwise City were defending with much greater comfort.
They were also more of a threat, Yaya Toure picking out Micah Richards, whose weak header was caught by Gomes.
City almost came unstuck just past the hour mark but an unmarked Crouch horribly mistimed his header from Lennon's cross.
Both sides made 68th minute changes, Adam Johnson coming on for Wright-Phillips for City, while Spurs replaced their strikeforce as Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko both entered the fray.
Johnson made an instant impact, feeding Tevez, whose shot was deflected narrowly wide by the charging King.
Spurs broke from the resulting corner and Pavlyuchenko twice sent shots too close to Hart.
Lennon then cut inside and fired straight at Hart moments before being replaced for the final 13 minutes by Giovani Dos Santos.
The forward just failed to get on the end of Luka Modric's clipped ball.
Tevez saw another shot blocked - this time by the head of King - the striker's last act before being replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor for the final seven minutes.
Bale missed a glorious chance to snatch all three points for Spurs when he sliced horribly wide on his weaker right foot after Pavlyuchenko's cross had broken to him off Nigel de Jong.
The winger made amends with a glorious ball for the Russian, who was thwarted by a brilliant Kompany tackle.
Pavlyuchenko was well wide from distance in the closing moments as the game ended goalless.