City lost further ground on the pacesetters after Blackburn grabbed a point at CoMs.
Fortified by a comical first half strike from Nikola Kalinic, Rovers clung on bravely conceding only a second half leveller from Patrick Vieira.
Sam Allardyce’s side had Paul Robinson and Chris Samba to thank for keeping the scores level, the former England goalkeeper made a string of telling saves from the beginning to the end of a contest that City bossed in terms of possession.
And when the last line of defence was beaten, as in second half injury time, Samba was there to help out. His block from Jo was outstanding and perfectly timed.
Goals have not been easy to come by for the Blues and when you have not found the net in five of your previous eight Premier League encounters missing the injured Emmanuel Adebayor and Mario Balotelli is far from ideal preparation.
But at least Carlos Tevez, nine goals in eight previous against Rovers, managed to shake off a dead leg sustained in the midweek international against Spain.
Jo, who had been expected to deputise for the Blues leading marksman had he failed a late test was on the bench. So too were international heavyweights David Silva and Gareth Barry but Nigel de Jong (dead leg) didn’t make it.
Having made his last Premier League start for City back in October 2008 against Newcastle, the Brazilian Jo probably felt that a role as a substitute was a step in the correct direction especially as he was so far out in the cold during the latter days of the Mark Hughes era that he must have felt he was in Antarctica.
Despite Barry being left on the bench City - to chants of ‘Come on England’ - fielded six men available to Fabio Capello, and there was an early chance for one of those Euro qualifying stars, Adam Johnson.
After James Milner had released him beyond Salgado, Johnson streaked clear only for Robinson - now ex Three Lions – to make a fine save at his near post
At times Rovers resembled the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. Mancini’s ploy to play with Johnson and SWP on the wings tested the less than speedy full backs who didn’t have the pace to cope and Johnson, on a typical surging run, chipped just wide of the same far post around which Robinson later clawed Kompany’s header.
SWP went close with another fizzer from long distance in an entertaining enough opening to the match that turned sour for the home side in the 24th minute when Pedersen’s aimless punt upfield caught Kolo Toure and Joe Hart playing a game of ‘after you Claude’.
The ball was allowed to bounce free and Kalinic must have been laughing as he side-footed into an empty net. It was the first league goal surrendered from open play this season and it was a howler.
Following the goal, the original pattern was resumed with Robinson saving well from both SWP and Johnson and Rovers entrenched in ‘thou shall not pass’ mode.
Robinson could do little about the equaliser when it finally came ten minutes into the second half. Patrick Vieira fed Tevez on the right and then continued his run to guide the return ball into the roof of the net.
SWP made way for Jo as the Blues sought a winner and they came close when Samba deflected a Tevez shot against his own post and again when Robinson went full length to push a 20-yarder from Gareth Barry for a corner.
Jo saw another decent effort blocked for a flag kick whilst Rovers’ best chance of snatching their 1,000th league win was thwarted by Hart who saved from Kalinic with his legs.
City might have had a penalty when Johnson appeared to be knocked over in the box by Samba but referee Clattenburg felt he had been looking for a foul and the incident did not warrant pointing to the spot.
Samba who might have been the villain then turned hero blocking what looked like a certain winner from Jo.