Roman Abramovich, the owner of the club, made the unpopular decision to axe Roberto Di Matteo on Wednesday, hours after a Champions League defeat by Juventus continued their poor run of results, and appointed the former Liverpool man for the rest of the season.
Benitez's arrival in the dugout was serenaded by jeers and boos from the home supporters who continued to chant Di Matteo's name throughout the first half.
The enmity shown towards Benitez stemmed from the run-ins he had with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during his time at Liverpool and the popularity of former player Di Matteo who guided the Londoners to Champions League and FA Cup glory in his eight months in charge.
Benitez brushed off the jeers, although he was in no doubt that he will face a tough battle to win over his detractors.
"I was just concentrating on the game, I was not paying attention to anything else, just the performance of the players on the pitch," the Spaniard told reporters after a point apiece kept Chelsea fourth and City second in the Barclays' Premier League standings.
"I can understand [the boos] because of the rivalry in the past but the majority of the fans will understand. I am a professional and I want to do my job, I want to win for the club and I want to win with them."
Chelsea, now without a win in five league games, improved after a sluggish first half but created few openings to test City and England keeper Joe Hart.
IT was easy to see why both teams have struggled to make an impression in the Cham-pions League this season. Both were solid without excelling and the stalemate did little to enthral.
Striker Fernando Torres, recalled by Benitez after being dropped to the bench by Di Matteo against Juve, wasted the home side's best chance when he fired over in the second half.
Defender Cesar Azpilicueta did force Hart to tip over his rasping drive late on and City, who had dominated the first half, almost won it at the death but Matija Nastasic directed his header straight at Petr Cech.
Elsewhere in the league, Tottenham beat West Ham 3-1 as Jermaine Defoe netted either side of a Gareth Bale goal. Andy Carroll netted his first goal for the Hammers late on but it proved too little too late for the London club.
Meanwhile, former Chelsea manager Dave Sexton, who brought the club their first FA Cup title in 1970 and first European Cup the next year, has died aged 82.
Sexton took over at Stamford Bridge from Tommy Docherty in 1967 and was also boss at Manchester United in 1977.