These south Wales rivals had not met in a league match since 1999 and the venom which habitually infected their clashes in the past inevitably bubbled to the surface yesterday, as both sides finished a frantic game with 10 men.
The red cards — for Cardiff’s Stephem McPhail and Swansea’s Leon Britton — overshadowed an entertaining contest which ebbed and flowed from the first whistle.
Swansea opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Darren Pratley only for Joe Ledley to equalise for the Bluebirds on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors went ahead two minutes after the break with a Ross McCormack penalty but saw McPhail sent off almost immediately for a second booking.
The Swans swarmed on the attack and substitute Gorka Pintado volleyed a 71st minute equaliser, before Britton was dismissed in injury time, also for a second yellow card.
“It was a superb derby game played in a fantastic atmosphere,” said Swansea boss Roberto Martinez.
“To concede goals so close to either side of half-time was disappointing but we went on to create a number of chances and should have finished off the game.
“The squad reacted superbly to going behind and we never lost our style of play. The performance deserved a victory and we had three up front trying our best to get the winning goal.”
It was the unfortunate Britton who began the move for the opening goal. He slipped a pass out wide to Jason Scotland who beat the offside trap before finding the unmarked Pratley.
Cardiff took a while to settle but went in at the break level thanks to local boy Ledley.
It was even better for the visiting fans when Michael Chopra was downed in the area by Fede Bessone two minutes after the break. McCormack netted from the spot for his 13th goal of the season.
Pintado made his mark one minute after taking the field with the equaliser after Cardiff were down to 10 men but they were unable to get the victory their second-half supremacy deserved.
“It was a fantastic advert for Welsh football,” said Cardiff manager Dave Jones.
“It took us a while to get into the game and a lack of discipline has probably cost us all three points as the last thing you want to do against a passing side is to go down to 10 men.
“It was a fantastic game but the referee made some strange decisions and didn’t seem to understand it was a derby match.”
De Vries, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Bessone (Pintado 58), Britton, Pratley, Gower, Tudur-Jones, Butler (MacDonald 58), Scotland.
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Tate, Bauza. Sent Off: Britton (90). Booked: Bessone, Pratley, Britton.
Enckelman, McNaughton, Roger Johnson, Gyepes, Kennedy, McPhail, Routledge, McCormack, Ledley (Scimeca 86), Bothroyd (Parry 60), Chopra (Rae 55).
Subs Not Used: Heaton, Comminges. Sent Off: McPhail (51).
Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).