St Johnstone began life after Derek McInnes with a goalless draw with Tayside rivals Dundee United.
Saints, with Alec Cleland and club captain Jody Morris in charge following McInnes's departure to Bristol City, came close with Frazer Wright's header.
United's Lauri Dalle Valle was also prominent, having a shot saved and twice heading off target.
The hosts came closest to scoring when Garry Kenneth's long-range free kick clipped the crossbar.
St Johnstone move a point above fifth-place Hearts and level on points with third-place Celtic, the latter two teams playing on Sunday, while United slip to 10th.
With the two sides having battled out a 3-3 draw in August, fans were hoping to see another exciting derby, but the tone for a dour match was set in a disappointing first half.
Dalla Valle got in behind the Perth side's defence to get in a shot that was saved by goalkeeper Peter Enckelman.
Saints' Kevin Moon had an effort held by goalkeeper Dusan Pernis and Marcus Haber was also unsuccessful in front of the United goal.
Dalla Valle ended a good passive move by heading Keith Watson's cross over the bar and, from another centre from the full-back, Barry Douglas was unable to make a firm connection.
Wright's mis-hit clearance looped perilously towards his own goal but dropped over the bar, much to the St Johnstone defender's relief.
The defender threatened to score at the other end when he met Liam Craig's free kick with a header, also over.
John Rankin's effort was held by Enckelman as the half wound down.
United had a free kick around 35 yards out at the start of the second half and Garry Kenneth tried his luck with a shot and almost succeeded, the effort clipping the crossbar on its way out.
Dalla Valle was off target again when he headed Rankin's teasing cross wide.
Douglas was next to try to add the finishing touch to a Watson delivery but headed wide at the back post and picked up a knock in the process, prompting his being replaced by Johnny Russell.
Francisco Sandaza was booked for simulation after going to ground in the United box under pressure from Gavin Gunning.
Saints mounted a late rally in the hope of snatching a winner, but Pernis's save from Dave MacKay's header brought the match to a close.