NEW year, same old defensive deficiencies.
Manager Peter Jackson's clean-sheet plea fell on deaf ears at Hull, and it's crucial Town tighten up at home to Bristol City today if they are to maintain League I play-off hopes.
How disappointing that slips by first Andy Holdsworth, then Efe Sodje allowed Stuart Elliott and Aaron Wilbraham to strike for the Tigers.
For Town had impressed in the first half, playing a patient, probing game which bore fruit when Chris Brandon gave them a deserved lead with a cool shot from John McAliskey's unselfish lay-off after 39 minutes.
If only Jackson's men could have got through to half-time unbreached.
Unfortunately, just two minutes after they had taken the lead, lively winger Elliott levelled with his 24th goal in all games this campaign.
Then, three minutes into the second half, substitute Wilbraham headed home his first goal since a £100,000 summer switch from Stockport.
Town never managed to regain their previous pattern, and Hull goalkeeper Bo Myhill had a relatively trouble-free rest of the afternoon.
The frustrating thing was Hull didn't really look like a side 11 places and 20 points better than Town, who deserved a second draw on the road after forcing that 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.
Having taken the sting out of the home side's early onslaught - Nathan Clarke did well to block from Jon Walters after two minutes, then Sodje cleared from Elliott's dangerous low cross on seven - Town settled to their task and looked solid.
Sodje popped up at the opposite end after 10 minutes to try his luck with a header from a Tony Carss free-kick, Myhill plucking the ball from the air cleanly, then the Hull defence had to scramble the ball clear from a Carss corner in the 14th minute.
The clearest-cut chance of the match so far came after 17 minutes, when McAliskey received a neat pass from the left from Danny Schofield, checked, then rasped in a shot which Myhill did well to turn away for another corner.
Michael Keane's late challenge on Pawel Abbott led to a 20th-minute chance for the Town striker, who got into space when Brandon flicked on Carss' free-kick, only for Ian Ashbee to block his goalbound shot.
Hull looked dangerous sporadically, with ex-Town loan defender Damien Delaney shooting over after 22 minutes and Walters heading wide from an Elliott cross on 32.
But it was Town who looked the sharper in the build-up, with Schofield wastefully shooting too high after the ball broke kindly when McAliskey mis-controlled an Abbott pass on the half hour, then Abbott firing over from distance in the 37th minute.
Brandon finally showed how it should be done, keeping his head to drill home his fourth goal of the season left-footed when McAliskey squared Abbott's ball into the penalty box.
Town's 2,500 travelling fans were still celebrating when Northern Ireland international Elliott struck back.
From a quickly-taken throw-in, Town old boy Delroy Facey slid a pass into the path of Elliott, who wrong-footed Holdsworth and beat goalkeeper Paul Rachubka with an angled shot to record his 23rd Hull goal (he has also netted once for Northern Ireland) and eighth in five matches.
It was a get out of jail card for the home team, and having gone in at half-time relieved to be on level terms, they poured forward on the restart.
Facey had already headed wide from a good position before Wilbraham lost his marker Sodje and rose to head home Stev Angus's well-placed cross.
Clarke tested Myhill with a long-range left-foot shot after his 63rd-minute long throw was only partially cleared, and McAliskey (73 minutes) and Sodje (87) had headers saved, but Town were unable to put together any concerted pressure and Hull held out comfortably enough.
Next: Man of the Match >>>
Man of the Match: NATHAN CLARKE
IT might seem a strange choice after Town's defending came in for criticism, but the 21-year-old centre-back again looked a class act, dealing calmly and confidently with everything Hull hurled at him and even testing goalkeeper Boz Myhill with a second-half shot.
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka Questions could be asked over the first Hull goal of a player harshly booed by home fans who blame him for popular striker Ben Burgess's long-term injury. Rating: 6/10.
Andy Holdsworth Did a decent marking job on Stuart Elliott, but the one time he lost him, it proved costly. Rating: 7/10.
Anthony Lloyd Back in the side at left-back because of David Mirfin's injury, he looked nervy early on, and never totally comfortable. Rating: 6/10.
Nathan Clarke Another classy show from Town's most consistent central defender. Rating:7/10.
Efe Sodje Not as steady as he had been at Bournemouth and lost Aaron Wilbraham when the Hull man headed the winner. Rating: 6/10.
Tony Carss Looked good when Town were on top but less influential in the second half after the Tigers took the lead. Rating:7/10.
Jon Worthington Always a willing worker despite taking a knock in the first half which finally forced him off with 10 minute to go. Rating: 7/10.
John McAliskey Not as sharp as in the previous two games but deserves praise for the unselfish lay-off which set up Chris Brandon. Rating:7/10.
Danny Schofield Worked hard to close Hull down and was lively during Town's best spell of the game in the first half. Rating: 7/10.
Pawel Abbott Started well but faded as the game wore on. Looks in need of a goal to restore some zip to his performances. Rating: 6/10.
Chris Brandon A useful all-round contribution was capped by a well-taken fourth goal of the term. But booked for the second game in a row. Rating: 7/10.
Town substitutes: Mendes for Schofield 76mins, Fowler for Worthington 80mins. Not used: Brown, Sodje (A), Senior.
HULL CITY: Myhill, Angus, Cort, Delaney, Dawson, Green (Price, 85mins), Walters (Wilbraham, HT), Elliott (Lewis, 89mins), Keane, Facey, Ashbee. Subs not used: Allsopp, Duke.