Neither team had the last laugh as it finished all square on April Fools’ Day at Dens Park.
Ross Callachan got Hearts off to a flying start with an excellent opener on two minutes but Dundee kept their heads up and deserved to level through Sofien Moussa on 28 minutes.
The 1-1 draw meant the Dark Blues have still not won a home game since December 16 but this was a pretty decent display from Neil McCann’s men and should give them some confidence for their Glasgow double header at Celtic Park on Wednesday and Ibrox on Saturday.
There were some top-notch individual performances from the likes of man-of-the-match Paul McGowan, Glen Kamara and Roarie Deacon, while Moussa will hopefully kick on after getting his first goal from open play in the league.
It could also prove to be a precious point and they now sit four points ahead of Partick Thistle and seven clear of bottom club Ross County.
The Dark Blues, who had McCann in the dugout after appealing against his two-game SFA ban, made a couple of changes to the team that started the 1-0 loss at Aberdeen 15 days ago.
Into the side came Jon Aurtenetxe and Simon Murray, with Kevin Holt and A-Jay Leitch-Smith both listed as substitutes. It was great to see striker Craig Wighton alongside them on the bench for the first time following his long injury lay-off.
Unfortunately, the Dens men were only able to hold out for two minutes.
It was a fine move from the Jam Tarts which saw Don Cowie play the ball to Marcus Godinho, who then passed to Callachan.
Callachan found himself in plenty of space inside the box, cut in from the right and then curled a nice shot beyond the outstretched arm of goalie Elliott Parish.
The Dark Blues tried to hit back quickly and good play from Kamara on five minutes saw him take possession in the middle of the park, run on and then play in striker Simon Murray. The pass was just a touch too heavy and Murray’s strike was saved by keeper Jon McLaughlin’s body.
After Deacon was booked for simulation inside the Hearts’ box, Murray pulled a shot wide as the hosts responded.
Hearts had to weather a bit of a storm but it was the visitors who were on the attack on 14 minutes when Cowie tried to squeeze a shot past Parish from a tight angle only for the goalie to push it away.
Scorer Callachan picked up a yellow card for a ludicrously late challenge on Dundee’s McGowan before his teammate Kyle Lafferty was booked for diving in search of a penalty.
McGowan, who was having an outstanding match in behind the frontmen, clipped the ball wide after yet another good attacking spell for Dundee, who had bossed the game since going behind.
The Dens midfielder got booked for clattering Joaquim Adao before the Jam Tarts had a great chance to make it 2-0 but Lafferty’s strike was well saved by Parish.
That miss was significant as, just seconds later, it was all square with the home side’s fine play rewarded with a deserved equaliser on 28 minutes.
It was Moussa’s first league goal from open play of the season and an excellent one at that. Mark O’Hara played the ball out wide right to Deacon, whose perfect cross to the back post was bundled over the line by the big Tunisian’s thigh.
Hearts defender Christophe Berra was the next player to be cautioned for a foul on O’Hara then Cowie blasted into the side-netting on 36 minutes.
The bookings kept on coming from card-happy ref Kevin Clancy and O’Hara got his name taken on 40 minutes for catching Steven Naismith when the Dundee midfielder was trying to shoot at goal.
Six minutes into the second half, the home fans saw the funny side when Moussa tried a shot at goal from distance but hooked the ball out for a throw-in.
Dundee lost their captain Darren O’Dea to injury three minutes later, with the Irishman replaced by Genseric Kusunga.
On the hour, the Dark Blues almost edged ahead when Steven Caulker nodded a corner to Murray, whose own header was cleared off the line by Naismith and Moussa couldn’t convert at the back post.
Naismith was lucky to escape with just a booking when he cynically scythed down McGowan as the home midfielder broke upfield on 68 minutes.
Dundee goalie Parish was called on to dive low to save a low shot from Callachan before the Hearts man was replaced by Euan Henderson and Hearts also switched Danny Amankwaa with Lewis Moore.
A combination of Naismith and Cowie could get past Parish on 74 minutes, with the goalie saving from close range.
A piece of magic from Deacon lit the game up on 79 minutes when he cut in from the right and let fly with a shot from outside the box that McLaughlin could only push out for a corner.
Deacon was the dangerman in the closing stages and he had a another go at goal, running across the front of the box before shooting straight into McLaughlin’s arms.
A header from Hearts sub Henderson whizzed past at one end then, with three minutes left, the home side had another chance but McGowan curled his shot over the bar.
Murray’s low strike in injury-time was well saved by McLaughlin as Dundee fought right to the end but they had to settle for what could yet be a valuable point.
Dundee: Parish, O’Dea (Kusunga 54), Caulker, Moussa (Leitch-Smith 85), O’Hara, Aurtenetxe (Holt 81), Murray, Deacon, Meekings, Kamara, McGowan. Subs not used: Ferrie, Kerr, Spence, Wighton.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Souttar, Hughes, Berra, Amankwaa (Moore 71), Lafferty, Naismith, Cowie, Godinho, Callachan (Henderson 71), Adao (Cochrane 79). Subs not used: Hamilton, Milinkovic, Randall, McDonald.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.