Phil Brown insisted before the match that it was absurd to suggest Hull City's bubble had burst, and his team proved the point with a spirited victory here yesterday.
Having failed to win any of their previous six matches, Hull responded admirably after going behind with less than 12 minutes remaining to record their seventh victory of the season and climb to fifth in the Premier League table.
The result, nevertheless, was hard on Middlesbrough, who were far from happy with Steve Tanner's award of what proved to be the winning penalty and his subsequent dismissal of David Wheater. Gareth Southgate's young team, who had been beaten only once in their previous seven matches and not lost away from home for nearly three months, have now lost from a winning position four times this season.
Hull, in contrast, are making a habit of turning games around. It is no wonder that Brown is being linked with the vacancy at Sunderland, the side he supported as a boy, though he stressed his continuing commitment to the club he joined two years ago. For the first 20 minutes, Middlesbrough threatened to pass Hull off the park. Didier Digard and Julio Arca pulled the strings in midfield, Jérémie Aliadière cut a swathe through Hull's left flank, and Afonso Alves's strength and Tuncay's guile looked a potent combination in attack.
Sam Ricketts made a desperate block to deny Aliadière at the far post as early as the fourth minute but, for all their fluent passing and movement, Middlesbrough created few chances and Michael Turner and Kamil Zayatte soon took command at the heart of the home defence.
Although Hull took time to find their stride, the chances soon started to flow. Geovanni was at the centre of their best work, but for once his eye for goal deserted him. After 21 minutes George Boateng's superb through-ball sent the Brazilian clear, but instead of going for goal he tried to square the ball to Marlon King, who was beaten to it by the retreating Wheater.
Hull's leading scorer had two more outstanding chances before the interval but squandered them both in almost identical fashion, heading well wide of the target.
The match seemed to be petering out when it suddenly caught fire after 78 minutes. Justin Hoyte's surging run into the penalty area ended with a cross that Tuncay converted from five yards with a clever backheel. But within 90 seconds Hull were level.
Bernard Mendy was given time on the ball 10 yards out and his shot struck the foot of the post before bouncing back into the net off Ross Turnbull, the Boro goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, Wheater appealed in vain for offside as Geovanni raced into the penalty area. The Brazilian went down under the defender's challenge and Tanner pointed to the spot as he reached for his red card. King made no mistake with the penalty.
Southgate, having seen the video replay, thought Geovanni was offside. Although he agreed that Wheater should have played to the whistle, the Middlesbrough manager felt there had been "minimal contact" and thought the red card was harsh.
Brown called it "a fabulous day" for Hull. "We were disappointed to go a goal behind, but that probably puts us top of the league at going a goal behind and getting something from the game," he said.
Referee: Steve Tanner
Man of the match: Turner
Match rating: 4/10Reuse content