Sociedad scored late to draw 1-1 at Burnley last night and travelled to stay 20 minutes from the Riverside last night.
On a warm afternoon on Teesside they offered little by way of threat in the opening exchanges, during which the closest either side came was a first time shot from Gaston Ramirez that whipped just over the bar from 20 yards.
The mix was easy paced and competitive, quite often a measured build-up would burst into life around the edge of the box, only to be snuffed out.
A back four of Emilio Nsue, Antonio Barragan, Ben Gibson and George Friend repelled most of what was thrown at them, with the exception of some trickery from Real captain Xabi Prieto who worked his way into a position that saw him shoot across the face of goal.
Juanmi engineered a half chance with a swift juggle deep inside the box, but fired just over.
Karanka made two changes for the start of the second half, Adam Clayton and Viktor Fischer replaced by Adam Forshaw and Albert Adomah.
It was Alvaro Negredo who headed the first chance over, then on the hour combined neatly with Ramirez and Nsue to win a corner when a low cross flashed over from the right was turned behind.
There was more pace to the second half and that seemed to suit Boro more.
Another change brought a near standing ovation as the home debut of Victor Valdes came to an end on 72 minutes and Dimi Konstantopoulos took to the field with the backdrop of rich applause.
He was part of a double sub as Negredo was replaced by Nugent and both Boro changes were quickly in action as Konstantopoulos was exposed when the defence was cut open and Juanmi astonishingly shot over six yard out with the goal at his mercy.
A couple of minutes later a low cross whipped in from the right picked out Nugent and his close-range shot brought a smart piece of goalkeeping from Toni Ramirez.
Boro: Valdes (Konstantopoulos 72); Nsue, Friend (Capt.), De Roon, Barragan, Gibson, Downing (Stuani 79), Clayton (Forshaw 46), Negredo (Nugent 72), Ramirez (Rhodes 79), Fischer (Adomah 46). Subs: Guzan (gk), Mejias (gk); Baptiste, De Pena, Reach, Jackson, De Sart.
Real Sociedad: Ramirez; Gonzalez, Illarramendi (Zubeldia 85), Bergara (Granero 70), I Martinez, Juanmi, Preito (Capt.to 70) (Vela 70) (Capt. From 70), Zurutiza, Oyarzabal (Sanz 46), Berchiche, Zaluda (C Martinez 85). Subs: Barjaji (gk); Bautista, Pardo, Elustondo, Hernandez, Navas, Concha.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick. No cards