Coventry City 1 Middlesbrough 1
It only took Don Hutchison 37 seconds to declare Coventry's intent with a meaty challenge on Fabio Rochemback. And it only took Gary McSheffrey three minutes before he had tested Mark Schwarzer with a long-range shot.
Those first two incidents summed up the game. Coventry harried and harassed their supposedly more illustrious opponents, but also proved they are more than capable of producing incisive football.
They are a team transformed from the nervous side that limped through November and it is hard to imagine anyone at the Ricoh Arena looking anywhere but up nowadays.
There is vibrancy about Micky Adams' team that is infectious, and when Michael Doyle clattered untidily into Gaizka Mendieta after 22 minutes, it drew a petulant response.
Mendieta was fortunate not to procure a yellow card, but it was indicative of the pressure they were placed under all afternoon by a ubiquitous Coventry side.
They look resilient in defensive areas and creative in midfield with Hutchison and McSheffrey in full flow.
Dele Adebola and Stern John have been known to blow hot and cold in the past, but their temperature was high on Saturday as they handed Gareth Southgate and company a testing examination.
Whisper it quietly, but Coventry are starting to look like a credible force in the Championship once again.
Hutchison proved that there really is no substitute for experience with a riveting show in central midfield, whilst McSheffrey was a revelation.
In terms of hot property he is positively sizzling at present, and Adams will be happy to reach Wednesday without having to fend off a bid for the jewel in his crown.
Whether it was Stuart Parnaby, who was sporting an impressive beard, the like of which has not seen in Coventry since Mick Ferguson's heyday, or Matthew Bates in opposition, McSheffrey was a constant thorn in their side.
And it was his perseverance that drew Coventry level. Having fallen behind to a neat Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink volley seconds after the interval, he chased a Hutchison pass he had no right to reach.
He scampered down the left wing and hooked a cross that reached Stern John in the penalty area. As the ball looped into the air, it was the effervescent Hutchison who reacted first and headed it into the path of John.
The Trinidadian striker, who has been jeered by home supporters this season, as well as being loaned out to Derby, struck a sublime shot past Schwarzer to restore parity and send the Ricoh Arena into a state of ecstasy.
That was the catalyst for a sustained spell of pressure, instigated by the main protagonists, Hutchison, McSheffrey and Adebola. Middlesbrough were on the ropes.
But Coventry were denied a goal they richly deserved and now face a long trip to the north-east in a bid to reach the last 16. With just one away win the league all season, their recent improvements will be given an acid test at the Riverside.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Adams believes his team have a style of play that can unsettle the Premiership side. "We adopted a style of play that suited us more than it suited them, and to a man we stuck to it and nearly pulled off a shock," he admitted.
"I enjoyed it, but I am not so sure Steve [McClaren] did. We were the underdogs, but we gave them a good game and I am proud of the boys.
"However, with our away form we might as well not turn up at Middlesbrough!" he added with a smile.
"We understand that as they are a Premier League side the tie has probably swung back in their favour. However, they are now aware of what we have got at this football club and if we play anything like we did today then we are in with a chance."
Adams' decision to bring in golden oldies such as Hutchison and Dennis Wise (who was missing through suspension) has given his team the fillip they required. Both possess strong minds and it is no coincidence that the Ricoh's demons have been lifted since their arrival.
Ady Williams and Richard Shaw aren't exactly in their first flush of youth either, but their defensive combination is stout and both possess a 'thou shalt not pass' mentality. The future looks bright for Coventry if McSheffrey is any barometer.
With Coventry still not safe from relegation, Adams will demand that any thoughts of an FA Cup shock are pushed to the back of their minds with crucial fixtures against Hull and Brighton to negotiate.
Yet, a trip to Middlesbrough should hold no fear for the Sky Blues, and with Wise back in the fold who knows?
Maybe Hutchison's 37-second foul could be beaten after all...