New Cardiff striker Robert Glatzel finally scored his first goal for the club to extend Derby's winless run to six matches as two of the SkyBet Championship promotion favourites shared the spoils from a 1-1 draw at Pride Park.
Glatzel, a £5.5million signing from Bundesliga 2 side Heidenheim, netted the equaliser from the spot in the 19th minute after Rams defender Scott Malone had produced a poacher's finish for the opener inside six minutes.
The lively opening came after Pride Park had to be evacuated just over 30 minutes before kick-off, although within minutes fans were allowed back inside after what appeared to be a false alarm.
After suffering back-to-back 3-0 defeats at Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup and Brentford in the Championship in the space of five days before the international break, Derby provided the perfect response upon their return to action.
The energy and persistence of Duane Holmes in the sixth minute led to him creating chances for Martyn Waghorn and Tom Huddlestone that forced fine saves from Alex Smithies.
The rebound from Smithies' second stop, however, saw Waghorn fight for the ball with Bluebirds captain Sean Morrison – resulting in it ricocheting into the path of left-back Malone who swept home his first goal since March.
Ten minutes later Derby appeals for a penalty, when Waghorn appeared to be tripped by Joe Bennett, were turned away by referee Darren England who had an easier task in pointing to the spot within 90 seconds.
After Glatzel was clumsily bundled over by Rams skipper Richard Keogh, the rangy forward then stroked a perfect spot-kick past Kelle Roos for his first goal in six appearances since joining City.
Derby proceeded to dominate the half up until five minutes before the break, but with little to show for their efforts, and instead, it was Cardiff who came close to heading into the interval with the lead when Krystian Bielik almost turned into his own net a long throw from Callum Paterson.
Inside the opening six minutes of the second half, it was Derby who twice came close to retaking the lead, only for Jack Marriott to strike the crossbar with a stunning 25-yard left-foot curler while Waghorn was denied by a close-range stop from Smithies after jinking his way into the area.
Waghorn soon flashed a 20-yard left-foot shot past a post as Derby pressed for the winner, but just as at the end of the first half, it was Cardiff who almost stole it late on when Matthew Clarke was forced to clear a Glatzel header off the line to leave the visitors without a win in four games.