THE response had brought the house down at last month’s Valley Parade question-and-answer session with the manager.

When asked by a fan what was going to be different to last season, Gary Bowyer deadpanned his inquisitor and replied: “Winning football matches.”

Behind the ready smile and the roar of an appreciative audience, there was a serious note to Bowyer’s message.

The summer has seen City rejuvenated from the distant, disparate entity that scowled their way to relegation. A pride has been restored on and off the field - with the Bantams boss at its epicentre.

The splits caused by the ruinous regime of Edin Rahic are being healed. The club are rediscovering their identity; Valley Parade its soul.

But like any proper football man, Bowyer knows that results are the true hard currency.

Amid all the back-slapping, however well meant, about repairing such a splintered environment, the City boss needs no reminding that it is only points that will make prizes.

As the well-worn cliché goes, football is a results business. That’s the nitty-gritty; everything else is secondary.

"Time" was the word that Bowyer stressed in his pre-season proclamation to the fans; that most precious commodity for every manager.

He has undertaken a major revamp and the overhaul is far from finished. “Only” 10 is how he describes the player intake since relegation.

It will take more than one transfer window – although he still needs to add at least a couple more bodies in the remaining four weeks of the current one.

He’s hoping to hear this week that the Oli McBurnie windfall will hopefully provide a helpful nudge in that direction.

City are changing for the good, in more ways than one. You could sense that in the air ahead of Saturday’s kick-off.

The unwelcome return to League Two had lost some of its sting in an environment drastically improved from three months ago when the team were booed by elements of the Kop during the “lap of appreciation” after the final game against Wimbledon.

This time, those fans behind the goal were leading a boisterous chorus of “Everywhere we go” in a bid to lift the current team to a breakthrough against stubborn opponents.

There was that unity that had been ripped apart as a consequence of the arrogant mismanagement of “he who knew football”.

And yet, it is all about results – and a home draw with a side who finished just six points above relegation last season will be viewed by some less charitable quarters as a case of “same old”.

The expectation level, naturally fuelled by the predictable status as promotion favourites with the bookies, will be high from the off.

Hence a small number of boos amid the frustration as the final whistle sounded. They were drowned out by the applause from many but the underlying disappointment after the big build-up was obvious.

The stalemate was particularly galling because City had enjoyed the advantage of an extra man for half an hour after Cambridge midfielder Liam O’Neil was consigned to an early bath for his lunge at Clayton Donaldson.

Both managers agreed that Donaldson had got away with a foul on full back Dan Jones seconds before but their reaction was predictably split on the punishment referee Ollie Yates instantly dished out for O’Neil’s petulant follow-up on the City striker.

Still, with so long left in the game, you expected City to push on and find that elusive goal an impressive crowd of 14,810 had been craving.

The fact that keeper Dimitar Mitov was not really troubled from that point underlined the sense of an opportunity wasted.

A shot ratio of only three on target from 22 attempts summed up the frenzied nature of City’s attacking play.

Bowyer had stuck with the triple-pronged frontline that had looked so bright in the 45-minute run-out at Rochdale the previous week.

Eoin Doyle kept his spot alongside James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson as Sean Scannell again began from the bench. It had been an “easy decision” according to their boss based on their efforts against higher-level defenders in pre-season.

It meant a narrower look to City, with Kelvin Mellor effectively finding himself more as a right winger than right back.

On the left, it was Adam Henley getting the nod over Jackson Longridge for his added “athleticism”.

Hope Akpan’s absence with a back spasm, joining Paudie O’Connor, Shay McCartan and Zeli Ismail on the sidelines, made for an inexperienced bench barring Scannell. The need for further reinforcements before the September 2 deadline is clear.

Jordan Gibson’s bright pre-season – and impressive demeanour in training since returning from his Stevenage loan spell – earned him a first league start since the end of last September.

The youngster feels he finally has a manager who believes in him. His ability has never been in doubt but now there seems to be an added application and conviction about his play.

He produced a peach of a pass for the most spectacular moment of the game, clipping an angled ball towards James Vaughan lurking just inside the Cambridge box.

The skipper still had it all to do as he controlled with his back to goal – before launching into a stunning overhead kick that flew over a bemused Mitov and against the top of the bar.

Vaughan threatened again when he stooped to get a head on Mellor’s bending cross but the ball bounced wide.

The second-half dismissal of O'Neil for cutting down Donaldson's attempted break from halfway looked to provide the shove needed to break Cambridge's dogged resistance.

But it was another 15 minutes before Bowyer summoned Scannell for Doyle to provide more width and try to stretch the visitors' reduced ranks.

Jermaine Anderson had been prone on the ground during the red-card incident and he had already limped off with calf pain. His replacement Danny Devine is still searching for a first City goal - a wait that goes on after he fired two efforts wide.

Bowyer turned to the stands and frantically waved his arms, conducting them to generate more noise.

But it was the 500-strong travelling contingent in the loudest voice as the whistle went to signal a preciously-gleaned point in front of the biggest audience they will see all season.