Much was expected from Stephen Kenny's first match in charge and, while victory eluded the Republic of Ireland, there was a new approach to mull over.
Youth was given its head and there was a definite change in approach, with defenders passing the ball out from the back and employing a high line, while the attackers pressed and attempted some intricate passing moves.
However, with plenty of options in most positions, Kenny will have food for thought ahead of Sunday's Aviva Stadium bow against Finland.
Darren Randolph - 7
Could do little about the goal but a high line meant he had to be alive to anything outside area all evening. Apart from the goal, anything on target was meat and drink to the Bray man.
Matt Doherty - 6
The new Tottenham signing was wearing 7 on his back but, playing very much as a right full-back, did not look out of place. Accustomed to a more attacking wing-back role, however he did find himself in one promising position in first half but lost possession. Key man in tactic of playing out from the back.
Shane Duffy - 7
The captain must share the blame for Bulgarian goal with Egan. Neither picked up Kraev, who was able to collect a pass unmarked in box. Redeemed himself with late equaliser from trademark powerful set-piece header. With high defensive line he did more running than he might have desired but apart from that error looked quite comfortable. All the defenders, for most part, looked at ease with ball at feet.
John Egan - 6
Had his back to Bulgarian centre-forward as he ghosted through middle of defence to open scoring. One surging run in first half showed a hint of what he offers Sheffield United.
Enda Stevens - 7
Booked in the first half, but his usual decent shift in defence and regular bursts upfield.
Jeff Hendrick - 7
Newcastle fans will have enjoyed this performance. Most aggressive of midfield trio. Clever pass almost set up Connolly after half an hour, while a strong burst forward at end of the half created a chance for O'Dowda. Showed some fine footwork on edge of Bulgarian penalty area in second half, invariably played the right pass.
James McCarthy - 6
A quiet return for the Crystal Palace man. Closest man to Nedelev as he played assist for the goal, but was mostly sound defensively. Would like to see him with the ball at his feet more as he was the least prominent of the starting midfield three.
Conor Hourihane - 7
Such a sweet passer of the ball and he regularly linked with Stevens on the left flank. Had Ireland's first sight of goal but his early half volley was off target. In the first half particularly he whipped in a couple of good crosses from wide positions. Even a late high, hanging delivery made the keeper nervous - perhaps they should have persevered with the tactic.
Callum O'Dowda - 6
Not a surprise to see him substituted midway through second half as he had gone completely out of the game. He was one of Ireland's best players in the opening period - pressing well, good strong running and presented with a promising chance late in first half but couldn't get enough on Stevens cross.
Adam Idah - 6
Not an easy debut for the teenager but he battled manfully and did some important hold-up work. Sharp touch put Connolly away early in second half as he grew into a game he played almost exclusively with his back to goal.
Aaron Connolly - 8
Ireland's liveliest player and the one who looked most likely to score. His pace was bothering the Bulgarians but it was his pressing that almost paid dividends. Lively to threat at goal-kick, poached the ball and arguably should have scored. Another chance was called offside before he forced a good save in second half.
Robbie Brady (for McCarthy 70) - 6
His corner found Duffy's forehead and equaliser. Couple of dangerous moments around the area.
Callum Robinson (for O'Dowda 74) - 5
One high and handsome effort would have found row Z, if there was not an athletics track around the pitch.
Shane Long (for Idah 77) - 6
Made a nuisance of himself as you would expect