In truth it was a poor performance and City looked anything like a side leading a charge to the Premier League.
Without Mark Hudson to marshall the defence and Craig Bellamy to lead from the front Cardiff also struggeled in midfield. Too many loose passes, poor clearances and a lack of belief made it a frustrating evening.
Derby will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a first half penalty for handball and also what looked a perfectly good goal was ruled out for offside.
Credit to Fraizer Campbell who, for me, stood out as City's best player on the night. He looked like he might get a reward for his efforts early in the second half and after Derby scored with 15 mins to go Rudy Gestede came on and made more of an impact then Heidar Helguson.
Sloppy defending gifted possession to Derby to allow Conor Sammon to give the visitors a lead but a rally from the Bluebirds and some encouragement from the crowd saw a superb cross from Andrew Taylor beat the County keeper for Craig Noone to head the equaliser.
Gestede acrobatically fired over as the clock ran down and the game ended 1 - 1.
Thanks to Hull losing at Palace 4 - 2 Cardiff have a five point lead over Watford who are now 2nd after a 2 - 1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Hull are six points behind. Palace seven.
All three of the teams chasing City have played a game more and all three play again before City's next game at home to Leicester next Tuesday.
That looks like being a game Cardiff really must win.