A first half penalty proved the difference as the trip to Blackburn Rovers proved fruitless for Boro.
The build-up had centred around the family re-union of Jonathan Woodgate and brother-in-law Stewart Downing, who joined Blackburn in the summer. Woodgate was also up against one of his childhood heroes Tony Mowbray, a Teesside legend, but in the event, the game was settled by the boot of another Boro old boy, Danny Graham.
Both sides had signalled their intentions with attacking line-ups and went at each other straight from the off. George Friend had to make one important clearance and Lewis Wing rifled a shot just wide, both inside the opening minutes.
Friend made another important headed clearance to deny Derrick Williams after a corner was only half cleared, but it was Blackburn who took the lead midway through the first half after Anfernee Dijksteel was penalised for tugging Graham’s shirt in the box, and the one-time Boro striker converted from the spot.
Ashley Fletcher did send a shot wide in response and Jonny Howson tested the palms of Christian Walton for the first time in the 44th minute with a shot from distance.
The second half produced little in the way of chances with Boro looking to get a foothold back in the game, but Marcus Browne almost profited from a delightful cross from Paddy McNair, only to be denied by the woodwork.
Darren Randolph was called upon to make one of his customary important saves as the clock headed towards the 80-minute mark when he spread himself well to prevent Joe Rothwell from putting the game beyond doubt.
Stephen Walker was introduced for his league debut, but time was slipping away, and it was Blackburn sub John Buckley who should have done better, when he rifled an effort over the top after good play by the home side.