Matej Vydra lit up the East Midlands derby with a goal after just 24 seconds to send Derby County on their way to a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.
The Czech gave Gary Rowett the perfect start in his first home derby as manager, and David Nugent’s crisp finish just after the break ensured that the Brian Clough Trophy was retained for the fourth consecutive game.
Vydra was in the starting XI for the first time since the home draw against Birmingham City and it took him less than a minute to send Pride Park Stadium into raptures.
He cut inside on his left foot just outside the penalty area and fired an unstoppable drive across Jordan Smith and into the bottom corner.
Forest reacted well with top scorer Daryl Murphy looking most likely to force an opening for the away side, as he had a tame effort saved by Scott Carson before heading wide two minutes later.
The Rams were happy to keep their shape and look for opportunities to counter attack, with Vydra having a close-range effort blocked from Richard Keogh’s cutback.
Forest should have been level with just over half an hour gone as Rowett’s side were caught, uncharacteristically, high up the pitch.
Barrie McKay ran clean through from the half-way line and really should have finished, but Carson stood firm to keep his side in front at the break.
The magnitude of the save was apparent five minutes after half-time as the Rams doubled their lead.
Vydra performed a neat turn near the halfway line before playing Nugent in behind, and he made no mistake in slotting his finish into the corner.
Derby took control from that point and they had the bonus of George Thorne making his first league appearance since May 2016 as he replaced the superb Vydra.
Tom Lawrence went close with two free-kicks and he had another effort brilliantly saved by Smith as Derby pressed for a third late on, but the two-goal lead was enough for victory in the end, as the Rams ensured that Forest haven’t won, or scored, at Pride Park since 2015.
Derby County: Carson; Wisdom, Davies, Keogh, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Russell, Vydra (Thorne, 70), Lawrence; Nugent (Martin, 80).
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Pearce, Weimann, Winnall.
Nottingham Forest: Smith; Lichaj, Fox, Mancienne, Traore; Osborn, Bridcutt, Dowell (Clough, 60); Cummings (Walker, 74), Murphy, McKay (Ward, 60).
Substitutes not used: Henderson, Darikwa, Bouchalakis, Worrall.
Forest are Vydra’s favourite Championship opponent and he wasted no time in extending an already impressive record.
He was on the bench for the away games at Brentford and Cardiff City and with the international break delaying a possible return to the eleven, the Czech looked sharp from the off, and his early contribution was stunning.
His brilliant effort inside the opening minute was his ninth goal in just eight Championship meetings with the Reds – he hasn’t scored more than five against any other club.
Vydra stole the show but, like at Cardiff, Derby’s performance was built on the solid foundation of a richly deserved clean sheet.
Curtis Davies and Keogh performed excellently to stop Murphy from becoming the league’s top scorer, repelling attacks on the deck as well as the six-goal forward’s aerial threat.
Carlos Carvalhal’s Sheffield Wednesday are the next visitors to Pride Park as Derby face back-to-back home league games for the second time this season.
After that, the Rams hit the road twice in a week, with away games at Norwich City and then Leeds United to end October.