On-loan Dundee striker Juan Sara nearly made the perfect start to his Coventry career when he rose to meet Gary McAllister's cross after just 90 seconds but his header was well over.
Brighton then imposed themselves on the game with Bobby Zamora and Graham Barrett running the home defence ragged.
On 22 minutes Mo Konjic spurned a glorious chance to give City the lead when he chested John Eustace's header into space but screwed his shot well wide.
On the half-hour mark Zamora came within inches of giving Brighton the lead with a glorious left-footed half volley that crashed off the angle of the woodwork with Morten Hyldgaard stranded.
Zamora came close again just before half time with a low drive from the right but Hyldgaard held well.
Coventry were much improved after the break but Brighton still looked the more dangerous - Robbie Pethwick tested Hyldgaard from distance on 50 minutes.
Then the Seagulls hit the woodwork for the second time when Danny Cullip reached a Konjic clearance, but his header landed on the crossbar and bounced over.
Richie Partridge, relatively subdued on the right wing, provided a couple of exciting moments with his pace, but on both occasions his final ball let him down.
Partridge was then presented with City's best chance of the half when McAllister won two tackles to release him into space and his shot forced a spectacular save from Michels Kuipers.