Scoring chances were at a premium in a tightly-fought contest at the Coface Arena, but both Kasper Hjulmand and Markus Gisdol are likely to be satisfied with a point that sends their respective teams, temporarily at least, into the top three of the Bundesliga.
The first surprise of the night came with the arrival of the team sheets, with the Bundesliga's current leading marksman Shinji Okazaki conspicuous by his injury-enforced absence. Sami Allagui was chosen by Kasper Hjulmand as the Japanese striker's replacement, but the change was as big a psychological blow for Mainz as it was a tangible loss.
Conversely, not seeing Okazaki line up against them was a boost to Hoffenheim, who started the game brighter with Anthony Modeste twice forcing saves out of Loris Karius. The guests kept the pressure on with Andreas Beck shooting high and handsome before Roberto Firmino's angled effort gave Karius even more work to do.
The Mainz custodian was up to the challenge, turning the ball behind for a corner, from which Niklas Süle headed just over, albeit with the aid of a piggy-back on Junior Diaz. Mainz's only chance of the first half proved to be the best of the lot with Jonas Hofmann feeding Filip Djuricic, whose attempted lob was pushed away by Oliver Baumann.
Baumann started to see a little more of the action in the early stages of the second half, most notably turning Hofmann's effort over instinctively at his near post. The absence of Okazaki was nevertheless taking its toll on Mainz, while Hoffenheim did not appear able to get their usual attacking play into gear either.
Hoffenheim coach Gisdol's response was to send Adam Szalai on for Modeste, reshuffling his pack in an attempt to catch Mainz out. It did not work, though, with the home team's well-drilled defensive line not giving an inch to any of the yellow shirts seeking a way through.
Hjumand also made a change, withdrawing Allagui and handing a Bundesliga debut to Pablo De Blasis, part of the Asteras Tripolis FC side which had eliminated Mainz from the UEFA Europa League this summer. However, the 26-year-old failed to spark any concerted pressure from the hosts, who were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Line-ups and statistics