There were no goals to cap the eagerly awaited return of the Highland derby as Ross County and Caley Thistle drew a blank at Victoria Park.
The anticipation was palpable throughout the north ahead of the first meeting between the two sides in 17 months, which was reflected by a near capacity crowd of 6,402 in Dingwall.
Despite the scoreline it was an entertaining spectacle in which both sides could have claimed all three points.
Inverness were firmly on top in the first half with some excellent goalkeeping from Scott Fox keeping them at bay.
However, the Staggies finished stronger and saw a late flurry of pressure go unrewarded.
The draw was far from an injustice but the stalemate knocked the two sides off the top two places, with Ayr United scoring a 2-0 victory over Alloa Athletic to reach the summit.
It was a first derby in charge for Staggies co-managers Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson, and the pair made some big calls for the visit of their Highland neighbours.
Iain Vigurs, who left Caley Thistle in the summer to return to Dingwall, was left on the bench in one of three changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Queen of the South the previous weekend, along with Declan McManus and Josh Mullin.
Sean Kelly, Keith Watson and former Caley Jag Billy Mckay were drafted in.
John Robertson named an unchanged side following the 3-2 victory over Partick Thistle which saw them climb to the top of the league.
In typically frenetic derby style both goals were immediately peppered, with Michael Gardyne’s drilled low delivery hacked away by Coll Donaldson before Liam Polworth shot wide from a Sean Welsh cutback within the opening 40 seconds.
Inverness began to take control of the first half and the onslaught on the hosts’ goal stepped up a gear on nine minutes when Fox showed outstanding reflexes to tip Aaron Doran’s 20-yard effort over the bar.
County’s best chance of the opening period arrived on 14 minutes when Sean Kelly’s corner broke to Watson, but his driven ball was diverted wide by skipper Liam Fontaine.
It proved to be a short-lived relief from Caley Jags’ pressure with Robertson’s men continuing to probe.
Derby specialist Doran looked firmly in the mood to inflict damage but saw his low drive thwarted by Fox in a superb double-save which saw him react instantly to deflect Jordan White’s rebound over the bar.
Polworth’s free-kick was punched over by Fox on 26 minutes, while White’s header from a Doran delivery drifted well wide soon after.
County weathered the storm and looked a far greater threat after the break, with Mckay seeing a shot held by Ridgers in the early minutes of the second half.
The introduction of Vigurs and Mullin in place of Ross Draper and Don Cowie provided County with the impetus to make a late rally, with fellow substitute McManus having a shot held at the second attempt by Ridgers.
County’s best chance fell to Gardyne, who had been wasteful from distance but saw a late effort go inches high.