A poor first 45 minutes gave way to a much livelier second half in which both sides scored terrific goals but were ultimately inseparable as the Dons wound up 2019 with a single point down at Tynecastle.
For the final game of 2019, Derek McInnes made three changes to freshen up the Aberdeen side that defeated Livingston 2-1 on Boxing Day. Dean Campbell, Jon Gallagher and Bruce Anderson all came into the starting line-up with Ryan Hedges, Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan trading places with them and moving onto the bench. Nineteen-year-old Jack MacKenzie was also on the subs' bench as the Dons played a second straight game without arguably the season's two outstanding players thus far, Sam Cosgrove and Andrew Considine.
Bottom placed Hearts were last beaten by the Dons at Tynecastle in May 2017, but they have lost their last five SPFL games in a row. Consequently, they made four changes to the side that was beaten 2-0 at Tynecastle by Hibs on Boxing Day. Out went Berra, Damour, Mulraney and White, replaced by Dikamona, Bozanic, Irving and Henderson.
Three minutes in and good interplay between Gallagher and Funso Ojo created an early half chance for Anderson, the young striker firing over from 15 yards as he tried to dig the ball out from slightly behind him. It was the only real action of a scrappy first quarter of an hour as the game struggled to find any pattern.
Hearts finally came to life in the 16th minute, a sweeping move that brought them forward unchallenged, Meshino pulling his effort wide from just outside the box. Ash Taylor was clearly less than happy with the midfielders for allowing the hosts to drive forward so easily.
That began a decent period for the home side who began to put some pressure on the Dons without really displaying a cutting edge. Aberdeen, meanwhile, were finding it hard to put any real passing moves together much to the obvious fury of Derek McInnes on the touchline.
Ikpeazu picked Campbell's pocket out wide in the 25th minute and got the ball to the back post to find Meshino, Scott McKenna on the spot to clear the ball from inside the six yard box. Ikpeazu then fired just over from the edge of the box as Hearts started to turn the screw. Shortly after, Shay Logan replaced Campbell at left-back, Zak Vyner dropping into right-back, Campbell heading back into midfield.
From nowhere, Meshino and Ferguson collided off the ball and were then both yellow carded on the half hour after the two had merely compared the handbags they'd received for Christmas, possibly the liveliest action of the half to that point.
Things finally came to life in the 37th minute, a long free-kick into the Dons' box dropping kindly for Halkett but as he fired at goal on the spin, Joe Lewis was there to smother the ball at his feet, the best chance of the game thus far as Hearts started to build up a head of steam.
Just before the break, Vyner fell awkwardly as he went up for a header, requiring lengthy treatment on an injury to his right arm before eventually making way for McGinn. The Dons won a free-kick 40 yards out in the dying seconds of the half but Hearts cleared comfortably enough to bring a disappointing first half to a close.
HALF-TIME: HEARTS 0 ABERDEEN 0
Hearts started the second half on top, Ikpeazu's low cross cleared onto Henderson, the ball ricocheting off him and looping onto the roof of the net. It mattered little because in the 49th minute, Hearts were ahead, Meshino allowed to advance before curling a 25 yarder beyond Lewis and into the top corner. It was a fine finish but he was given far too much space to run into.
The Dons were almost on terms within two minutes, Logan looping a lovely ball into the box, Anderson getting underneath it and putting his header over the top from eight yards out, the Dons' best opportunity of the game. Hearts responded quickly, a low drive across goal from Irving tipped wide by Lewis as the game belatedly came to life.
Aberdeen made their second change in the 55th minute, James Wilson replacing Main, Ojo almost immediately going into the book to join Ferguson. The Dons could have been level in the 58th minute, Gallagher making a great run into the box on the right, but he couldn't pick out one of his colleagues with the cut back and the chance was gone.
Signs that the Dons were starting to exert pressure on the hosts came on the hour mark when Daniel Stendel, the Hearts boss, was yellow carded by the referee for his reaction to a free-kick going against his team. Ash Taylor joined him in the book five minutes later.
Quick thinking from the Dons in the 67th minute turned the game on its axis, a swiftly taken free-kick setting Gallagher away only for Clare to haul him down and get the inevitable red card.
From the free-kick, fully 30 yards out, McGinn curled his effort over the wall and in off the post to level things up, a beautiful finish from the Northern Irishman.
To try and plug their defensive gap, Ikpeazu was brought off in the 70th minute, replaced by Damour as the Dons scented blood. They created a great opening in the 73rd minute, Campbell setting McGinn free, but he overhit the final ball with Anderson galloping in on goal. It turned out to be a really good chance wasted. Niall had more time and space than be realised and could possibly have ran in on goal then squared it instead of going for the early ball.
Seconds later, McGinn miskicked his effort on goal as the Dons started to swarm forward against a ragged looking Hearts.
Wilson then almost scored direct from the resulting corner, Pereira acrobatically pushing the ball to safety. Hearts made another change in the 76th minute, Meshino heading off, Washington replacing him. Bozanic made way for Garuccio in the 84th minute while Hedges was Aberdeen's last change at the same time, replacing Ojo.
It was all very frenetic in the final stages as both teams went for the win. The game became really stretched.
Hearts won a free-kick in the 85th minute, right on the corner of the Aberdeen box, Irving's driven ball flicked wide of goal by a defender, an important touch on a dangerous cross. They got another free-kick wide on the right in the 88th minute, Dikamona booked for a foul on Taylor as the ball came in.
Hearts, continuing to play a pressing game, produced a number of dangerous breaks and on one occasion Dean Campbell, covering from his left back spot over to the right side, produced an outstanding last-ditch tackle. Had he not made it, Hearts would have had a two on one situation.
From there, Hearts were able to manage the clock, keeping the Dons at bay to ensure that the spoils were shared in Edinburgh.
Aberdeen will be disappointed that they did not control proceedings better in the final ten minutes, that might have led to an opening, and in the end you have to say a draw was a fair result.