Vince Cable, Lib Dem spokesman for the Treasury, emerged as the viewers' favourite in an online poll following the first ever "Chancellors" debate.
It was a tightly contested affair with Mr Darling and Mr Osborne both scoring 32 percent in the poll.
But it was Vince Cable who edged it on the night with 36 percent of those that voted thinking Cable performed the best.
Mr Darling used his opening statement to attack Tory plans for immediate spending cuts, warning that "premature" reductions risked "tipping us back into recession".
But his Conservative shadow insisted that people knew from their own experience that the "sooner you deal with a debt problem, the better".
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said there had to be a "new kind of economy" in Britain, which relied less heavily on "a few prima donnas" speculating on financial markets.
The debate in front of a live audience was a precursor to three face-offs between the party leaders due to be held when the election campaign formally gets under way.