Aitor Karanka’s hosts were rewarded for their greater endeavour as Gaston Ramirez’s 60th-minute header sealed the victory that moved them four points clear of the bottom three.
Hull manager Mike Phelan went with a 4-5-1 formation that was supposed to revert to 4-3-3 when his side attacked, though they rarely got out of their own half until Ramirez’s goal sparked them into life.
Hull have won twice on their travels in the Premier League – at Swansea and Stoke – but they also went into Monday night’s game having conceded 15 goals in four successive defeats on the road.
“I’m not going to sit here and pretend we can be more attack-minded, but the position we have found ourselves in lately is we’re getting sucker-punched for trying to be positive,” said central defender Davies.
“When you come to a place like Middlesbrough the onus is on them to attack us, so if you can set up solidly and stop them from playing, then hopefully they become expansive and we can get a few chances on the break.
“That was the plan. Unfortunately, while we were solid and defended well, it comes down to a set-piece. That’s the frustrating thing, because for all their good play and all their possession and inter-changing play with Gaston and (Adam) Forshaw and players crossing over, I don’t think (Andy) Marshall had a save to make.
“We’ll never be a team that is gung-ho. I don’t think in the Premier League we’re good enough to be gung-ho as a lot of teams are going to have 70 per cent possession.
“But when we do go down we throw caution to the wind, because we have to try and get points. Unfortunately we fell short on Monday.”
Hull face another pivotal game against a side down at the bottom when Crystal Palace visit the KCOM Stadium on Saturday.
After starting poorly in each of their last two home games, Davies knows the importance of a fast start against Alan Pardew’s side. “We know, home or away, we can potentially do something,” said Davies. “If we can start well and get the crowd behind us it keeps us going. But at the moment we haven’t given them much to sing about.
“Right now we’re a second-half team; that might have worked against Southampton, but other than that it hasn’t really worked.
“We need to get into Palace and stamp our authority on the game. We don’t ever doubt ourselves.”
From Boro’s perspective, the victory means they have lost just once in their last six Premier League games.
“I think we’ve got some momentum now,” said Ramirez, after his second goal of the season.
“When you are playing well, it is important you make the most of that and get the points you deserve. We have moved up the table and I think we have deserved that.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how you play, the important thing is the result. But we have been playing well and we just need to keep going like that now.
“It was nice to score with a header. I don’t get too many of them.”