A 10-man Melbourne Victory have held Adelaide United to a dogged, scoreless 0-0 draw at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Neither side was able to do much more than wriggle out some early-season cobwebs in what was a dour arm wrestle, loaded with ordinary fouls, nervous misses and numerous off-sides.
With neither side able to trouble the scorers, Victory captain Leigh Broxham was sent packing in the 73rd minute with a softish second yellow card, giving the Reds a spark.
But aside from a late Sergio Cirio shot from the middle which was well stopped by Danny Vukovic, the home side never really looked threatening.
Making his A-League starting debut, goalkeeper John Hall had some nervous moments, filling the big shoes of skipper Eugene Galekovic (away on Socceroos' World Cup Qualifying duties).
Wrong-footed, out of position and beaten all ends up by Kosta Barbarouses, he was reprieved when the visitors were well off-side in the 49th.
Moments later, Hall was magnificent when he exercised stunning reflexes to bat away Gui Finkler's sharp chance.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The first half numbers told a numb story, atypical of the nation's two super-rivals who have waged numerous epic battles - 22 fouls, three bookings and not a single shot on target.
It didn't get much better after the break with 36 fouls racked up and only four shots on target.
After being booked in the 26th minute for an ordinary tackle on Sergio Cirio, Broxham was contentiously sent packing following a flying, arms-raised challenge on Isaias in the 72nd.
Replays confirmed the Victory skipper was a trifle unlucky.
Broxham's red-carding could have proved fatal against a more settled, in-sync United line-up.
THE FINAL WORD
The Reds head back to the 'burbs this Friday night when they host the Western Sydney Wanderers at their traditional, favoured home base Coopers Stadium.
Victory will look to improve markedly when they tackle hometown rival Melbourne City in the local derby at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Adelaide United: Marrone, McGowan, Malik, Isaias, Cirio, Carrusca (c) (Mells 89'), Goodwin, Dugandzic (Pablo Sanchez 81'), Jeggo, Babalj, Hall
Melbourne Victory: Vukovic, Georgievski, Broxham (c), Finkler (Makarounas 90+3'), Berisha (Howard 90+4'), Barbarouses, Bozanic, Khalfallah (Deng 78'), Mahazi, Delpierre, Murnane
Red cards: Broxham (72')
Yellow cards: Marrone (15'), Isaias (20'), Broxham (26', 72'), Finkler (65'), McGowan (83')
Conditions: 28°C, sunny
Attendance: 19,079 at Adelaide Oval