Local lad Peter Whittingham, once on Coventry's books, had looked to have proved the scourge of the Sky Blues yet again with his fourth goal in five meetings between the two clubs just after half-time.
Ironically it came via Aron Gunnarsson's long throw, so often a weapon for Coventry in his three years at the club prior to his summer move to south Wales, as the ball broke for Whittingham to lash home from the edge of the penalty area.
The midfielder then saw a long-range strike tipped on to the crossbar by Joe Murphy before Sky Blues marksman Lukas Jutkiewicz moved level with Whittingham on seven goals for the season, his well-taken header shortly after the hour mark adjudged to have crossed the line.
Both sides will be relatively happy with a point at the Ricoh Arena but it is more welcome for Andy Thorn's struggling side, who had lost four of their previous five, than Malky Mackay's promotion-chasing Cardiff who, in stark contrast, had won four of their last five and moved up to third in the process.
It was the Bluebirds, also boasting centre-back Ben Turner following his summer switch between the two clubs, who twice threatened during what was a fairly low-key start to proceedings in front of a crowd of just 12,317 - only 25 more than the lowest-ever league gate at the Ricoh Arena which was recorded last season.
Whittingham flashed an effort wide before turning provider after 11 minutes with a delightful volleyed pass which found Kenny Miller, who in turn drilled narrowly over.
The hosts enjoyed their first chance after 17 minutes as Jutkiewicz nipped in to collect a loose ball on the edge of the area before lashing a low left-footed effort across goal and just wide of David Marshall's post.
Clive Platt failed to find the target with two headers from crosses by Richard Keogh and Chris Hussey before the chances dried up as both sides played it out in the middle of the park.
Sky Blues stopper Murphy had to get down well to turn behind Whittingham's low effort after 37 minutes but that was about as good as it got prior to half-time.
That all changed just three minutes after the break as Gunnarsson's long throw was only half cleared to the edge of the penalty area and Whittingham lashed the ball home into the bottom corner in front of the visiting faithful.
Richard Keogh nodded a half-chance off target at the other end before Whittingham was at it again, this time seeing his 30-yard strike tipped on to the crossbar and over by Murphy.
The save soon proved crucial as left-back Hussey found himself in the left channel at the other end and delivered a ball on to the head of Jutkiewicz, who nodded the ball against the underside of the crossbar and over the line.
Cardiff number nine Miller had three clear-cut chances to clinch the points for the visitors at the other end, twice firing off target before Murphy denied him with a sprawling block late on.