STEVE BRUCE’S pre kick-off decision to ignore a request to do a selfie with a wildly enthusiastic and pushy home supporter probably set the tone.
Sky TV may have elected to screen this fixture with the plot being a seductive one with Bruce among several now in claret and blue to return to their old stomping ground, but it largely proved a camera-shy occasion.
It was a dreary turn-off of a game, which will not live long in the memory banks – quite fittingly played out in filthy conditions.
The one consolation was that it heralded a point of significance for Hull City as they inched ever closer to Championship safety, with the point being of far more value to the hosts that it was to an unconvincing Villa side.
Just as going up had to be achieved the hard way for Bruce when he was in charge of the Tigers in 2015-16, so he will now, in all likelihood, have to endure that same tortuous play-off route with Villa in his quest to record a highly-impressive fifth promotion to the Premier League.
Villa – who have now picked up one point in three matches against sides in the bottom half of the Championship – are suffering from just the sort of a stutter that Bruce’s Hull endured two seasons ago when they fell away from top-two contention.
He is a leader on and off the pitch and my captain. I have enjoyed it and he helps me a lot.Chelsea loanee Ola Aina on Hull city captain, Michael Dawson
While Bruce sweats it out in mid-May, his counterpart, Nigel Adkins, will have drawn a line under a hard season at Hull which should at least end in them remaining as a Championship club.
This solid point possessed defensive substance, in particular, with it easy to see why Hull have now lost just once in 11 home matches on this stout evidence.
More importantly, Adkins witnessed his side produce a rearguard showing of character. No woes against a second-city opponent this time with the Tigers getting back on message defensively after a porous display at Birmingham last time out which drew censure from their manager.
Hull took their inspiration from captain Michael Dawson – made a scapegoat by the media for the painful 3-0 loss at St Andrew’s, according to Adkins.
It was an immaculate defensive performance of towering authority and just the sort that Hull will miss if, as many suspect, Dawson leaves this summer.
The returning Angus MacDonald also had a far more accomplished night that he did on the last time he strode out at the KCOM in the home reverse to Millwall – when his display drew stinging criticism from Adkins. Just a pity his night was curtailed early after he jarred his back.
Others could take credit in helping to record a clean sheet too, including Chelsea loanee Ola Aina – on a day when he lined up against a Stamford Bridge legend in Villa captain John Terry.
Aina said: “I always enjoy playing against JT. He is a good friend and a good bloke. I wanted to play well and show him how far I had come.”
On the defensive savvy imparted by another figure of stature in Dawson, he added: “He is a leader on and off the pitch and my captain. I have enjoyed it and he helps me a lot. He is a good pro and you can see that and someone to look up to as a defender. If you are not up to standards, he will give you one, which is the right way.
“He does not moan, but he tells you and he keeps me on my toes all the time in the whole game.
“He did that when this game was getting a bit tighter towards the end. It helps, especially for a young player like me.”
It was perhaps just on one occasion, only a few minutes in, when City’s iron defensive mask slipped when Albert Adomah ghosted in unchecked at the far post following a cunning centre from ex-Hull winger Robert Snodgrass.
But Adomah, who had a forgettable night, somehow scooped the ball over from a few yards out with the settler of a first goal never arriving for Bruce and Villa.
Home fans did have their sport in the first half with Snodgrassberated at regular intervals and taking a first-half booking for his pains.
In truth, it was a diversion from a stale attacking show from go-slow City, who were predictable and ponderous, but, thankfully, there was alertness at the other end, with several timely interventions, with Dawson taking the lead.
Allan McGregor did field efforts from Jack Grealish and Snodgrass, but it was pretty routine.
Hull’s only meaningful forward foray ended in Harry Wilson firing wide. But thankfully, their second-half efforts carried rather more intensity and conviction.
Sam Johnstone was belatedly called into action to tip away MacDonald’s effort, and substitute Jon Toral was off target when handed two sights of goal, first heading over Max Clark’s cross under pressure and then firing over after the ball broke.
At the other end, Villa, who had enjoyed plenty of their own way on their previous visits to Yorkshire this season, offered next to nothing in a witless episode.
The fear that Villa, given their vast attacking armoury, would conjure one piece of telling quality before the end proved groundless from a Hull perspective, too. Expect it to be far tougher at Wolves tomorrow.