The spoils were shared as 2009 begins with Udinese and Sampdoria still far from at their best.
The Christmas break came just in time for both sides, who limped out of 2008 in dismal shape. The Friulani were thumped 5-1 at Milan, confirming a run of one point from seven games and went into this tie without the suspended Mauricio Isla and Gokhan Inler. Samp had lost three of their last four and netted just four goals on their travels all season.
Several Udinese stars faced their former club - Maurizio Domizzi, Luigi Sala, Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Floro Flores.
Christian Obodo's snapshot was smothered and Hugo Campagnaro risked an own goal. The Sampdoria defender sustained an injury during that clumsy intervention and had to be replaced, so his team switched to a 3-5-2 system.
A splendid dipping Simone Pepe free kick was palmed out from under the bar by Luca Castellazzi.
Antonio Cassano was quiet early on, but skipped past Aleksandr Lukovic with some fancy footwork and was eventually closed down by the defence.
Ferdinando Tissone's build-up was impressive, though the finish was weak and central. Antonio Di Natale also should've done better when he chested down the ball at the back post and volleyed over under no pressure.
Lukovic went off injured and Udinese had penalty appeals in first half stoppages, as Pepe felt he was pushed by Reto Ziegler when trying to get on the end of Quagliarella's pass.
Udinese had a fantastic chance on 54 minutes when a long pass hit Ziegler on the back, turning into an assist for opponent Pepe, but Castellazzi saved his side with a point-blank reaction save.
Sampdoria took the lead soon after, though. A corner kick found Gennaro Delvecchio totally unmarked for a free header from seven yards that looped into the top corner, leaving Samir Handanovic stranded.
Udinese equalised within five minutes. A long free kick ricocheted around the box until former Samp man Maurizio Domizzi volleyed in from a couple of yards with the outside of his foot.
Di Natale shaved a coat of paint off the near post with a right-foot strike from outside the box, but Cassano's free kick was disappointing.