Manchester City 1 Hull 1
Joker Jimmy Bullard performed a repeat of Phil Brown’s controversial half-time team-talk but after rescuing a point for Hull on their return to Manchester City.
Brown’s amazing decision has been cited by many as the moment the Tigers fortunes began to nosedive last season.
Yet Bullard could not stop himself having a laugh at his manager’s expense after his 81st minute equaliser from a spot-kick Mark Hughes is sure to feel aggrieved by.
From virtually the exact spot where Brown delivered his address, the former Wigan star pointed to all his team-mates in turn to give the gleeful Hull fans a repeat performance.
As well as maintaining Hull’s recent revival, it condemned City to a seventh successive Premier League draw.
Yet again the Blues tossed away a winning position and, in front of chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the hosts were booed off amid growing concern is mounting at what is becoming a mid-table position despite a summer outlay of £120million by the City manger.
Hughes’ post-match analysis will centre around referee Lee Probert, who left Kolo Toure still shaking his head after the final whistle after spotting what could have been a foul by the African on Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink or a handball by Joleon Lescott, both of which would have been pretty harsh.
Not even the return of Robinho could trigger a victory, although admittedly City were in front when the Brazilian departed 15 minutes from the end of his comeback game.
On a very chilly day, on the weekend when El Clasico will capture the attention of world football at the Nou Camp, Robinho could have been forgiven for wishing Hull were not the opponents he would be facing.
The three months since his last appearance in a Manchester City shirt have been filled with endless speculation about a possible move to Barcelona in January.
It seems like a perfectly plausible scenario for a man who was not entirely sure he would be joining the Blues on transfer deadline day last year.
However, having invested a British record £32.5million on the Brazilian, Hughes is in no mood to release him quite so easily and wants some evidence of commitment from the player as well.
The most obvious way of achieving that is by performances on the pitch.
And, in a drab first half that City dominated but created little, Robinho was one of the few shining lights.
Am impish curling shot from the edge of the area brought the crown to its feet as it fizzed wide and a well-executed overhead kick was not that far away when the former Real Madrid star next had a sight of goal.
Robinho also played a significant role in the Blues goal, although it was only as a by-product of being chopped down in his own half by Paul McShane.
At a time when referees seem to be being berated at every turn, Probert deserves plenty of credit for the way he did his job, applying an advantage City took maximum advantage of.
In ferrying the ball quickly up field, the Blues finally gave themselves a chance to run at the Hull defence.
Wright-Phillips eventually found himself with the ball at his feet, letting fly from 20 yards.
Hull keeper Matt Duke appeared to have it covered but as he set himself to make a routine save, Anthony Gardner tried to head the ball and succeeded only in sending it into the bottom corner.
It was harsh luck on Hull, who had defended stoutly even if they had been pretty non-existent as an attacking force.
All that changed within a minute of the restart as City’s defence fell asleep in a manner that must have alarmed Hughes.
There was little obvious danger in a ball that was bouncing about just outside the City box. But one simple pass from Jozy Altidore provided Richard Garcia with a clear sight of goal.
Garcia calmly lifted his shot over Shay Given but thankfully for the Blues, Lescott had spotted the danger and cleared off the line.
It was the nearest Hull got to a leveller until Probert made his controversial call. And Bullard definitely had the last laugh.