Just when a half-decent game looked as though it was about to be settled by a goal of rare beauty, up popped Dean Windass to instigate one of the scrappiest of the season and maintain Hull's handy away record.
In fact, Noé Pamarot got the final touch to deny the 39-year-old Windass his first strike of a frustrating season spent largely warming the bench. The news won't have been enthusiastically received by the striker, who celebrated as wildly as he had done after his Wembley wonder goal that earned promotion in the play-offs final last May.
Never mind. The purists would rather remember the game for Glenn Johnson's abracadabra moment just past the hour mark, when his left-foot volley brought the old ground to its feet. If that's the result of a few days spent with Fabio Capello, then bring on more "meaningless" friendlies. Pompey fans will hope he has something similar in the locker for Thursday's Uefa Cup visit of Milan.
"It was a fantastic goal and it deserved to win the match," said Ports-mouth's manager Tony Adams, still awaiting his first home win. "I was hoping and praying it would but we have to learn how to lock games up." They might also work a but harder at defending set pieces, which were the cause of both of Hull's goals. "In the end I have to be pleased with a point."
Much of the earlier attention was focused on referee Stuart Attwell, he of the phantom "goal" awarded to Reading at Watford. He was stood down for a month after that unfortunate episode and there was an early test for the 25-year-old yesterday. Barely two minutes had passed when Johnson, one of three Pompey players to start for England in midweek, sent in a cross that Papa Bouba Diop headed against the underside of the bar. Pompey's players appealed for a goal but Attwell, after a glance in the direction of his assistant, kept his nerve.
Adams's was a refreshing voice in last week's club versus country debate; he was delighted to see David James, Johnson and Jermain Defoe in the starting line-up in Berlin, although arguably less so after a calf injury cost him the services of leading goalscorer Defoe yesterday. Defoe watched from the stands as Pompey went ahead after 20 minutes. Johnson's deflected shot fell to Younes Kaboul on the left and his cross was met by Peter Crouch, whose header was unstoppable.
Hull, winners four times on their travels, created next to nothing until, a minute from the interval, Geovanni struck the corner of James's upright from 30 yards. Buoyed by that, Hull drew level 10 minutes into the second half. The busy, inventive Dean Marney sent over a corner to which Kamil Zayatta got a touch and Michael Turner, also impressive, headed past James at the far post.
James then did well to keep out a Marney shot and set the stage for Johnson's moment of brilliance after 63 minutes. Armand Traoré's hopeful ball into the area was cleared. Johnson controlled it with one touch before dispatching a left-foot volley with power and accuracy past Boaz Myhill.
Hull's manager Phil Brown was true to his attacking nature and sent on two wingers with striker Windass. One of those, Stelios, put in the 89th-minute corner that led to the carnage as Windass threw about his considerable frame, with Pamarot the unfortunate victim. "We have great spirit and this team never knows when it is beaten," said Hull's assistant boss Brian Horton.
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Marney
Match rating: 7/10