Jonathan Hogg was sent off following an ugly collision with Harry Arter as Huddersfield and Cardiff ground out a goalless draw that did little to advertise their Premier League pedigree.
Both sides are tipped as relegation candidates and if this was really the earliest imaginable 'six-pointer' of the season then taking one apiece suggests a long, hard campaign could be on the way for David Wagner and Neil Warnock.
Hogg saw red just after the hour, aggravated by Arter but responding boorishly - first pushing forward with his head then shoving the midfielder to the ground.
That gave Cardiff time to press for a win which had never previously seemed likely, but they proved no more able than their hosts to summon a cutting edge worthy of the top flight.
Wagner had spoken prior to the match about the closeness of the competition between goalkeepers Ben Hamer and Jonas Lossl, but persevered with the former despite his conceding nine goals in his first two outings for the club.
The former Leicester man did not get long to justify that show of faith, coming off injured after less than quarter of an hour.
His solitary contribution was at least a positive one - tearing from his line to throw himself in front of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who had taken three Huddersfield players out of commission with a couple of smart touches and a muscular run.
Mendez-Laing made way immediately, via stretcher, with Hamer lingering just long enough to allow Lossl a reasonable warm-up.
The Terriers were allowed to set the pace in the first half, enjoying some success down Cardiff's left wing, where Josh Murphy was failing to support Joe Bennett.
A handful of testing crosses made their way in from the flank but Sol Bamba was the dominant aerial presence in the away box, clearing his lines consistently.
The closest Huddersfield came to taking advantage was when Philip Billing, a bright performer in midfield, beat his man and whipped an awkward ball back across goal.
It was only half-cleared and met with conviction by Terence Kongolo, who drilled a powerful effort into the side netting from 20 yards.
Bluebirds keeper Neil Etheridge produced the first notable save of the match early in the second half, Bamba finally out-jumped.
Steve Mounie was the man to climb above the defender, rising at the far post and unleashing a strong header which tested Etheridge's reactions to the limit.
Huddersfield's chances of turning the screw evaporated in the 63rd minute, when Hogg's violent reaction to Arter became apparent.
It was easy miss in real time, with play already advanced when the incident occurred, but Michael Oliver's assistant referee appeared to get a good look and Hogg can have little complaints about his treatment.
Now the onus fell on Cardiff to grab a priceless away win. Chances began to fall for them, Bamba meeting a corner too timidly and substitute Danny Ward denied by Lossl's near-post save.
Sean Morrison had a better opening than both after 75 minutes, nodding wide with an unmarked header from six yards, and Bobby Reid spurned a couple of late invitations.