Continental debutant Adam le Fondre says facing the likes of Hulk and Oscar in Asia's showpiece tournament was one of his reasons for coming Down Under.
Sydney raced to an early lead through a deflected Siem de Jong effort, but everytime the Sky Blues pressed the advantage, Shanghai capitalised on moments of defensive weakness.
Wenjun Lu, Adam le Fondre, Yu Hai and Alex Brosque exchanged blows, leaving the Sky Blues a goal up with only three minutes remaining. But Josh Brillante's giveaway at the death allowed Elkerson through on goal and there was only one scoreline after that.
"We're obviously disappointed to throw away the lead a couple of times against quality players - let's not kid ourselves - but we gave a good account of ourselves tonight," Le Fondre said.
"This is one of the reasons I came out here, to test myself against better players. We've got to get a result in Shanghai, so we can always focus on the next game."
A 3-3 draw isn't to be sniffed at against the likes of Hulk, Oscar and Odil Ahmedov. But Steve Corica will feel a lot closer to a kick in the guts than a proud performance - they remain last in Group H with two points, while Shanghai remain second with four.
"It's a good game, 3-3, it's difficult to play here against Sydney. We played a good match and we had a lot of injured players so it's okay," Oscar said.
"We had a lot of support for both Sydney and Shanghai so a good day today. The competition is very hard, it's not easy to come here and play against Sydney or to play in Japan, the teams here are getting better year on year."