The encounter always promised to be lively but only referee, George Cain, knows how this game ended with all the players still on the pitch.
What the World Darts Champion, Andy Fordham, thought as he looked on from the crowd as guest of honour as both sets of players squared up at least four times is anyone's guess.
Some football was played as the home side peppered Mart Poom's goal from the kick-off with both Danny Dichio and Neil Harris guilty of missing some great chances.
The Millwall midfield was as industrious as Sunderland's was sloppy and the lively Peter Sweeney caused panic down the left-hand side with his probing runs.
Predictably Dennis Wise, Jason McAteer and Jeff Whitley all came close to blows as they all produced X-rated tackles on each other and the game threatened to boil over at any time.
McAteer and Whitely were booked in the second half but Wise escaped any punishment despite trying his hardest with his two-footed lunges, head-butts and elbows going unpunished by the referee.
The game changed on the half hour when a defensive error by Darren Ward allowed Kevin Kyle to run into the box and square the ball to the back post for the lurking Marcus Stewart to sidefoot home.
Sunderland's purple patch lasted only ten minutes when Dichio powerfully headed home a superb cross from the impressive Sweeney to send the teams in level at half time.
It was Dichio again who gave the home team the lead when he collected a throughball from Neil Harris that deflected of Phil Babb and into the striker's path for him to provide the cool finish.
Only smart saves from Poom stopped Millwall increasing their lead as football occasionally broke out amid the hostilities.