The Bluebirds dropped points against another of the npower Championship's struggling sides in a clash high in endeavour but low in quality at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough's narrow victory - their first in five attempts - came courtesy of Julio Arca's 40th-minute penalty after Gabor Gyepes had brought down Marvin Emnes, and the result propelled the hosts out of the bottom three.
But Cardiff, who rescued an injury-time point at home to bottom club Preston last weekend, have seen their promotion charge reduced to more of a lame jog with just one win in their last seven games.
That sequence has seen frustration creep in among some supporters, with boss Dave Jones this week calling for all quarters to stick together while also having to bat away claims of internal disharmony within his r
anks. Amazingly, however, City remain second in the table, just four points off leaders QPR who were undone 3-1 at home to Watford on Friday night.