Steve Bruce may have brought 10 new faces to the Stadium of Light this summer, but he concedes Sunderland have not found a replacement for Darren Bent.
He could only look on with frustration as his men created numerous chances yet fired a blank at the Premier League new boys Swansea City to cap a disappointing week.
The Republic of Ireland's John O'Shea hit the crossbar on his competitive debut inside 78 seconds before the Ghanian striker Asamoah Gyan was twice denied by the superb Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Scott Sinclair hit the woodwork for Swansea, but Bruce admitted the Mackems are missing the England striker Bent, who left for Aston Villa in a £24m move last January, as he looks to reinforce his strike-force before the transfer window closes on Wednesday.
Bruce said: "We had five or six opportunities but what separates teams at this level is the ability to take them. John has hit the bar and we had really good chances through Asamoah. You can't keep creating that level of chances and not score. We have not been able to take them. It is a hugely disappointing thing. The biggest and hardest thing at this level is to score a goal. In Darren Bent we lost a predator. If he had played today he could have made the difference. We have a couple of irons in the fire and we are hopeful of bringing another striker in."
Bruce had faced a week of fierce criticism after losing the Tyne-Wear derby as well as a shock Carling Cup exit to Brighton. Although his men picked up a much-needed point here they were booed off at the final whistle, but Bruce reckons the critics need to take a reality check.
He added: "We have had a difficult start away from home, but we lost a derby match. It's been a frustrating, difficult and disappointing week. A draw is seen as not good enough and that's the expectation level now. We must have a reality check somewhere. We wanted to win the match, but Swansea had chances too. "Wes [Brown] and John [O'Shea] will make us much better defensively. I can't remember the last clean sheet we had."
Swansea's inability to score a first Premier League goal was largely down to Brown who produced a faultless display at the heart of the Sunderland defence. The ex-Manchester United defender produced a superb block as Danny Graham closed in on goal in the 41st minute.
For Swansea, trips to the Emirates and Stamford Bridge await in September, but their manager, Brendan Rodgers, believes his side will get better in front of goal. "Danny has not scored yet but it is only a matter of time," said Rodgers. "He will be disappointed with the header before half-time but I have no concerns about him. I believe we will improve as the season goes. We have showed signs we can compete. We just need a bit of good fortune and the release of getting a goal will move the team on to another level.
"We have players off on international duty, but it's how you cope and adapt with that. We will have a chance to reflect on our opening period in the Premier League. We have tough games ahead, but we will look to keep moving forward."
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Caulker, Williams (capt), Taylor; Britton, Agustien (Allen, 80), Routledge (Lita, 70); Dyer (Dobbie, 80), Graham, Sinclair
Sunderland (4-4-2): Mignolet; Bardsley, Brown, Ferdinand, O'Shea; Larsson (Elmohamady, 70), Gardner, Cattermole (capt) (Wickham, 70), Colback; Sessegnon, Gyan (Richardson, 77)
Referee Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
Man of the Match Brown (Sunderland).
Match rating 6/10.