Sven Goran-Eriksson and the Riverside Stadium have an uncanny tradition of combining to conjure memorable matches – but not this time.
It was on this turf that, during his last game in charge of Manchester City, they crashed to a humiliating 8-1 defeat in 2008.
Last season, with Eriksson newly installed at the Leicester helm, the two sides shared six goals, the former Middlesbrough forward Yakubu Ayegbeni scoring a hat-trick for the visitors.
He was the manager of Sampdoria for the stadium's inaugural match back in 1995 and in 2002 he was the England manager for the Riverside's sole full international.
This, though, will barely merit a mention should the connection between the Swede and Boro's home ground be made at some juncture in the future.
The most noteworthy point to emerge was the fact that unbeaten Boro spurned the chance to move to the top of the Championship, failing to score for the second home game in succession, and instead moved into second.
The Boro manager, Tony Mowbray, said: "We played against a decent team and ultimately the result is satisfactory. But there is frustration that we took one point instead of three, although I'm sure in time we'll start to win more matches at home."
Eriksson, too, believes Boro are in decent shape. "They play very positive football," he said. "There is a long way to go but they have done very well so far. I cannot say we deserved to win this and a draw was probably a fair result."
City are unbeaten on the road this season and a steadfast rearguard, with the on-loan Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson as its shield and the £5m captain, Matt Mills, its fulcrum, restricted the hosts to efforts from range early on.
Nicky Bailey blazed over from 25 yards and Joe Bennett inadvertently drew a scrambling fist from Kasper Schmeichel after his cross had sailed toward the Dane's gaping near post.
At the other end, Boro, with the joint-tightest defence in the Football League – having conceded just five goals this season – were proving their own worst enemy.
Errant passes from first Bennett and then the goalkeeper Carl Ikeme presented the visitors with openings, the latter of those lapses seeing Jermaine Beckford, still without a goal since his deadline-day move from Everton, head on to the roof of the net from three yards out.
Boro, who were fortunate to scrape a goalless draw at home to Ipswich Town at the weekend, were again disjointed and lacking in craft; a statement which belies their club-record six wins on the spin away from the Riverside.
But in eight-goal Marvin Emnes, the Dutch striker, Mowbray has a prize asset with the ability to work something out of nothing and, having stolen a yard on Mills, he forced a worried Schmeichel to claw around his upright three minutes before the break.
Boro, though, were an altogether different proposition after the interval and Bennett, the much-coveted England Under-21 left-back, again tested Schmeichel, this time intentionally, as he seized upon Richie Wellens's lazy pass before seeing a 20-yard drill, headed for the bottom corner, snaffled clear by the keeper.
With Southampton trailing at Cardiff City, Mowbray's men were chasing top spot and Bailey should have elevated them to that lofty standing when heading wide from Barry Robson's inviting centre on 69 minutes.
But that was as close as either side came during the closing stages as the game petered toward a goalless conclusion – not what you would have expected with Eriksson in town.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © p_a_h
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