Match ends, Dundee United 1, St. Johnstone 1.
Dundee United will need to "learn very quickly" said manager Micky Mellon as they were pegged back by 10-man St Johnstone on their Premiership return.
United dominated the first half, buoyed by Nicky Clark's penalty, and looked favourites when Michael O'Halloran was sent off before the interval.
However, Liam Craig smashed home a wonderful volley to level.
The depleted visitors were then the better side, with David Wotherspoon and Danny McNamara denied by good saves.
The hosts found a late second wind but neither side could find a winner in a frantic last few moments.
"I felt we were okay and then we lose a goal from a bit of detail that we have worked on and the lads knew the work that had to be done and we just came off it a little bit," Mellon told BBC Scotland.
"It will be a continual learning process, they've come up a new level now as the champions last year. They'll get different questions now at a higher level against stronger teams and we'll have to get used those lessons very, very quickly."
United have been absent from the top flight for five years and looked in a hurry to make up for lost time, playing with great energy in midfield while wing-backs Liam Smith and Jamie Robson galloped forward.
A shot from Smith was blocked by a raised arm and Clark stepped up to covert the spot-kick on six minutes.
Robson had a close-range shot blocked by Elliot Parish and the visiting keeper had to smother a shot from Peter Pawlett, who was linking well with forwards Clark and Lawrence Shankland.
Wotherspoon hammered a shot narrowly wide for St Johnstone, while Callum Hendry took one touch too many after some fine footwork, allowing Robson to get in a vital touch.
A poor first half for the visitors ended on a sour note with O'Halloran late in a challenge on Calum Butcher to pick up his second caution.
Craig's goal arrived out of the blue, with Mark Connolly's attempted interception looping up perfectly for the midfielder to crack in from 15 yards.
Suddenly, the depleted visitors were on top and Benjamin Siegrist was the busier goalkeeper, making two good stops.
"Once we got a man sent off we were tremendous," said Saints boss Callum Davidson. "I would have been really disappointed if we hadn't taken anything from the game."
Davidson had no issue with the red card, saying O'Halloran had been fortunate to avoid a booking shortly before the second yellow.
"We actually said 'do we bring him off now', but he goes and puts another tackle in and that was the end of it. Michael has to realise that when you are on a booking and when you've been let off you've got to be very careful."
Man of the match - Jamie Robson
What did we learn?
Shankland was full of nice touches in the opening 45 minutes but the prolific striker, with a hatful of Championship goals over the past three seasons, only got two meaningful sights of goal.
His first attempt was blocked and, early in the second half with the score at 1-0, he twisted Liam Gordon one way then the other before shooting over the top.
The St Johnstone defence was much improved after the break and Shankland was kept quiet before setting up Pawlett with a great chance to score late on, with McNamara sliding in to make the best tackle of the day in front of goal.
McNamara had an eye-catching debut for the visitors, the on-loan Millwall full-back improving as he adapted to the pace of the game, while Wotherspoon, who led the attacking statistics with four shots, was a big factor in the comeback.
Both managers will be happy with one half and fuming with the other.
What did they say?
Dundee United manager Micky Mellon: "We will get better, we will get fitter and we will get more organised. Overall, it was a decent performance but we're disappointed not to keep control of the game after they went down to 10 men. We just couldn't find that little break we needed against a packed defence."
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "The players showed character, dug in and battled. There are areas where we can improve but I thought our fitness levels were tremendous."
St Johnstone are at home to Aberdeen next Saturday, with Dundee United travelling to Motherwell on the same day.
- 30NeilsonSubstituted forBoltonat 65'minutes
- 17RobsonBooked at 43minsSubstituted forChalmersat 90'minutes
- 10ClarkSubstituted forSmithat 76'minutes
- 15McNamaraBooked at 82mins
- 26CraigBooked at 6mins
- 24BoothSubstituted forTanserat 74'minutes
- 11O'HalloranBooked at 45mins
- 22HendrySubstituted forMayat 64'minutes
- 10WotherspoonSubstituted forConwayat 74'minutes
- Kevin Clancy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Dundee United 1, St. Johnstone 1.
Offside, St. Johnstone. Alistair McCann tries a through ball, but Scott Tanser is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Logan Chalmers (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Peter Pawlett.
Substitution, Dundee United. Logan Chalmers replaces Jamie Robson.
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Liam Craig.
Attempt blocked. Ian Harkes (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lawrence Shankland.
Attempt saved. Craig Conway (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Scott Tanser.
Attempt blocked. Peter Pawlett (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lawrence Shankland.
Foul by Mark Connolly (Dundee United).
Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Dan McNamara (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Peter Pawlett (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Dan McNamara (St. Johnstone).
Offside, St. Johnstone. Liam Craig tries a through ball, but Jamie McCart is caught offside.
Foul by Liam Smith (Dundee United).
Stevie May (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Dundee United. Cammy Smith replaces Nicky Clark.
Attempt missed. Nicky Clark (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Jamie Robson (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.