Every season, something will happen in the FA Cup to keep the sense of drama alive yet there can be no pretending that romance does not now come second to pragmatism.
Phil Brown, told last week after a promising spell as caretaker manager of Hull that he has the job until the season's end, was pleased not to have been beaten by Premiership opponents but is far more concerned with the match against Queen's Park Rangers in the Championship on Saturday than the Cup replay a week tomorrow.
Boaz Myhill, the Hull goalkeeper, who recalled going to the last Wembley final in 2000 as a wide-eyed Aston Villa apprentice, had to spoil the story. "We're thrilled to get another crack at playing at a Premier League ground against Premier League players," he said. "But we play in bigger games than this every week - it's not our priority."
The former England player Nick Barmby, said by Brown to be "desperate" to face one of his several old clubs, was left out. A little stiff and achy after training on Thursday, at 75 per cent fitness the 32-year-old was not allowed to take the risk.
A month ago, Hull were next to bottom of the Championship, five points adrift of safety. Now, after three wins in five matches since Brown replaced Phil Parkinson, they are one place and one point above the drop. On Saturday's evidence, survival looks a decent bet. Middlesbrough were on another level technically but Hull's committed defending worked so well that when Mark Viduka put Middlesbrough ahead 17 minutes from the end, you felt Hull had been unlucky.
Competitive urges kept Brown's players interested and it was no massive surprise, when Ryan France curled in a free-kick six minutes later, that Nicky Forster, a substitute, should head home an equaliser.
"We had enough chances to be comfortable and that's what can happen if you don't take them," Southgate said. Too close for comfort to the Premiership drop zone, he would also have been happy not to have an extra game. "It was going to be about character and we met the challenge but we perhaps did not deal with the spell after we scored as well as we should have."
Goals: Viduka (73) 0-1; Forster (79) 1-1.
Hull City (4-3-2-1): Myhill; Ricketts, Coles, Turner, Dawson; France (Featherstone, 90), Ashbee, Livermore; McPhee (Forster, 76), Elliott (Duffy, 60); Parkin. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Plummer.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Jones; Xavier, Riggott, Pogatetz, Taylor; Cattermole (Morrison, 68), Boateng, Arca, Downing; Yakubu, Viduka. Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Parnaby, Christie, Euell.
Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire).
Bookings: Hull Duffy. Middlesbrough Pogatetz, Boateng.
Man of the match: Coles.
Attendance: 17,520.Reuse content