Giovanni Trapattoni has stubbornly stuck to a 4-4-2 formation since taking charge of the Irish team but, after their disastrous performance at the European Championship, he implemented a 4-3-3 in attack that dropped back to a 4-5-1 when not in possession.
James McClean had spells playing in both a central and wide role, while Jonathan Walters played the majority of the match as a lone striker before being substituted in the second-half.
However, while the new formation had some success in stifling the Serbs, this was a match that lacked intensity in a near empty Red Star stadium and neither manager could have learnt much from an outing that had a 'pre-season' feel to it.
Ireland started the match with McClean, James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan as a midfield trio with Simon Cox and Aiden McGeady playing either side of Walters.
The new shape helped Ireland avoid being overrun in midfield like they had been at the Euros although it did leave them looking a little vulnerable at times down the flanks.
Serbia enjoyed more possession in the first-half but the only save that Kieren Westwood, in for Shay Given who retired this week, had to make in the opening 45 minutes was when Alexander Kolarov’s tepid low shot was redirected by Dejan Lekic towards the corner. Westwood got down well to save the shot, although the lack of power in the effort certainly helped him.
Ireland did not pose much of a goal threat themselves but Whelan did force Vladimir Stojkovic into a save with a miracle lob-attempt from halfway that was probably just going wide, while Walters got behind the defence inside the box before having a shot blocked.
Both teams made a number of changes in the second-half and the Serbian subs, such as young striker Lazar Markovic, seemed to settle into the match better, making the hosts the more dangerous team in the second period.
However, while there was plenty of clever build-up play from the Serbs, their final product was poor; former Manchester United man Zoran Tosic was particularly guilty of ruining his clever work with disappointing shots and crosses.
Westwood did have to make one excellent save as he got down low to push wide Zdravko Kuzmanovic's curled free-kick but, despite some more late pressure from Serbia, Ireland always looked good value to hold on for the draw, with Darren O’Dea a particularly impressive presence at the back.
It was hardly a sparkling night for the Irish but the new formation can be put down as a qualified success and Trapattoni must now decide whether he wants to use it during a World Cup qualification campaign that sees Ireland play three of their first four matches away from home.
That journey begins in Kazakhstan on September 7 and, with the likes of Germany, Sweden and Austria also in the group, starting with an away win looks to be imperative if Ireland want the chance to redeem their poor performances in Poland with something more respectable in Brazil in 2014.