Curtis Davies had given Hull a first-half lead before Peter Whittingham equalised after the break to ensure two of the Premier League’s newcomers claimed a point apiece.
In a replay of the match that secured promotion for Hull on the final day of last season, there was significantly less theatre to speak of this time around.
Davies headed home Tom Huddlestone’s cross in the 40th minute to give the Tigers their first goal from open play this season, before Whittingham levelled around the hour mark to round off a delightful Cardiff move.
Following a failed attempt to bring West Brom’s Shane Long to the club on transfer deadline day it was left to Danny Graham, who had not scored in 1,146 minutes in the Premier League, to lead the Hull City front line.
Hull were able to name goalkeeper Allan McGregor in their starting XI after he recovered from the groin injury that ruled him out of Scotland duty last week.
Frustratingly for Cardiff their number one David Marshall stood in for McGregor against Macedonia but sustained a hip injury in the process, leaving Joe Lewis to start for the Bluebirds.
Jake Livermore and Sone Aluko combined well before the latter’s shot was palmed away by Lewis, and although Graham was in the right place to convert the rebound his first-time effort from eight yards was well off target.
Hull were enjoying the majority of possession, but were prevented from taking the lead by stand-in Lewis, who repaid the faith displayed in him by manager Malky Mackay.
Aluko starred in the Hull midfield and twice got shots away when the away defence stood off him, though both went wide of the near post.
Fraizer Campbell, who turned Hull down for Cardiff, took the role of pantomime villain and earned a booking for an unnecessary lunge at James Chester – much to the fans’ approval.
With half an hour gone Cardiff stirred, Whittingham finding Gary Medel surging into the box. It was a smart piece of play from both men but the Chilean’s touch was heavy and the ball skidded on to McGregor.
Nine minutes later Hull took the lead however, Huddlestone’s driven effort forced a corner, which Lewis punched out but only as far as the former Tottenham midfielder on the right touchline.
With men still forward, Huddlestone whipped in a superb cross that dipped and bounced to leave the defence flat-footed. Davies was more alert and reacted fastest to head home from six yards.
It took Cardiff only five minutes to muster their first real chance of the second half, Aron Gunnarsson sending a dangerous looking shot into a crowded area where Livermore was on hand to block.
Hull took their time to respond but did so when Aluko won a free-kick in the right channel having hunted down Huddlestone’s lofted pass.
Huddlestone dragged the set-piece across the area for Robert Koren, but his strike was charged down.
The equaliser arrived just before the hour mark, a couple of brisk one-touch passes releasing Don Cowie into room to deliver the perfect cross for the sprinting Whittingham. His run was timed ideally and left him to finish calmly from eight yards.
One almost brought two when, moments later, Gunnarsson headed wide from a good position following strong work from Kevin Theophile-Catherine.
Mackay’s side were rejuvenated and Bruce’s response was to send on Stephen Quinn for his Republic of Ireland team-mate Robbie Brady.
Graham was still struggling to make an impact, but won a corner after Huddlestone’s perseverance gave him a rare sight of goal.
It was, at least, a sign of a new period of pressure from Hull, which led to Aluko converting Quinn’s cross only for him to be denied by the offside flag.
Graham might have won it with a header in added time but could only leave Lewis with a straightforward save.