An in-depth look back at the history of the Rams, from 1884 to the present day.
Derby County began life in 1884, as an off-shoot of Derbyshire County Cricket Club - formed some 13 years earlier - with football growing more popular.
In those days there was no Football League, so the Rams had to make do with a series of friendly matches and the FA Cup.
Friendly matches were a way of building the team and the club up and the cup eventually provided some success in 1885, with an impressive victory going a long way to putting the town's football club on the map.
In 1888 came the introduction of the Football League, a 12-team competition formed with clubs from across the midlands and the north-west.
Preston North End, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Accrington FC, Everton, Burnley, Notts County, Stoke City, and of course, Derby County.
Bolton were the first league opponents, a game Derby won 6-3 with doubles for Cooper, Bakewell, and Lawrence Plackett, but the Rams would ultimately finish tenth in the debut campaign.
The following season saw improvement on the field - the County Ground, Derby's first home - as the club finished seventh.
In 1889/90 Derby made their most significant signing thus far with the capture of England international John Goodall, a star of the Preston side that had won the double in league football's first season.
1890 to 1900
A clash with a race meeting meant that March 19 1892 went down in history as the day Derby County graced the Baseball Ground for the first time.
They lost that game 1-0 to Sunderland and would eventually move to the BBG for the start of the 1895/96 season with race meeting clashes becoming more frequent.
The 1890s was the decade that saw football's first superstar come to prominence.
Steve Bloomer made his Derby debut, at the age of 18, on the opening day of 1892/93, and at the end of September he scored from the penalty spot in a draw with West Bromwich Albion.
It was the first of 332 goals over a long and distinguished Rams career for the front-man, a tally that still stands today as the club's all-time highest.
Bloomer was the leading scorer in 1893/94, the first of 13 consecutive seasons he led the chart.
The Rams narrowly avoided relegation to the newly-formed Division Two in 1894/95 by beating Notts County in a Test match - these were the early equivalent to play-offs, though the format differed slightly to today's in that the bottom three from the First Division would take on the top three from the second tier.
If you won, you were up, and if you lost you were down.
1895/96 was the most successful season so far of Derby's fledgling life.
They finished second for the first time, four points behind Aston Villa, and also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup where they lost 2-1 to Wolves.
Third spot and another semi-final defeat followed the next year, before in 1898 came the first of two successive FA Cup finals.
Bloomer was on target in the Crystal Palace clash, but Derby went down 3-1 to Nottingham Forest.
Twelve months later they were back at the Palace again but were beaten again, this time 4-1 by Sheffield United.
1900 to 1910
The turn of the century saw Derby maintain their position in the upper reaches of Division One while Bloomer was continuing to see off all who came up against him.
He scored his 200th goal in November 1901, a figure only one other Derby player - Kevin Hector - has passed.
Derby were back at Crystal Palace for another FA Cup final in 1903, but with Bloomer out injured and a goalkeeper also struggling, it wasn't to be.
Bury's 6-0 success still stands today as the highest winning margin in an FA Cup final.
And midway through the 1905/06 season came news that rocked Derby - Bloomer had been sold to Middlesbrough, and the following year his loss was felt as the club suffered relegation for the first time.
Jimmy Methven was appointed manager in August 1906 and played the last of his 511 games for the club that season, but couldn't prevent them losing their Division One status.
Derby gradually improved their Division Two position over the next three seasons and in 1909/10 they were a solitary point away from winning promotion, having been beaten by Oldham Athletic in game 36 of 38.
Derby finished fourth on 53 points, tied with Hull City and Oldham, and it was the Latics who would celebrate top-flight football that year.
In that very same season Alf Bentley became the first Derby player to reach the 30-goal mark - something even the great Steve Bloomer hadn't managed.
1910 to 1920
Steve Bloomer was back in a Derby shirt in October 1910 at the age of 35, and he made an immediate impact with two goals in a 5-0 victory over Lincoln City in his first game back.
And the following season his impact was there for all to see as Derby won promotion back to Division One after finishing top of the table.
Bloomer scored 18 league goals as the Rams clinched the championship thanks to a 2-0 win at Barnsley on the final day of the season, thanks to a superior goal average compared to second-placed Chelsea.
On April 26 1913, Ernald Scattergood became the first - and so far the only - goalkeeper to score for Derby County, when he netted a penalty in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City on the final day of the season.
Scattergood went on to net two more goals in a Rams shirt - both penalties.
Bloomer remained a prolific scorer right up past his 40th birthday but he only played five times in 1913/14, scoring twice, as Derby finished bottom of Division One and suffered their second relegation.
Bloomer scored 332 goals for the club in 525 games and is still Derby's leading all-time goalscorer, while only three players - Kevin Hector, Ron Webster and Roy McFarland - have made more appearances.
Having dropped out of the top-flight in 1914, Derby bounced straight back the following season as they became Division Two champions again.
The 1914/15 campaign was the last in league football until 1919/20, due to the First World War.
When football resumed, the Rams comfortably held on to their top-flight status.
1920 to 1930
The turbulent run continued in 1920/21 as Derby, still under Jimmy Methven's management, dropped out of Division One again.
Methven departed the Baseball Ground the following season following 31 years at the club, as player and manager, and a final 12th in Division Two was Derby's lowest-ever finish.
A breeze of excitement blew through football across the country in 1922/23 with news that Wembley Stadium would host the FA Cup final for the first time.
And the Rams, now under the control of Cecil Potter, fell just short of going all the way.
Potter guided Derby all the way to the semi-final, a fine achievement for a team outside of the top-flight, but they were beaten 5-2 by West Ham United - who were also in Division Two.
Derby finished third for two successive seasons, when both times they should have secured a top-two spot and promotion, but when George Jobey took over for the 1925/26 campaign they went one step better.
Jobey's Derby finished second in the table and top-flight football returned to the Baseball Ground - now owned by the club after they purchased it from Francis Ley in 1924.
The Baseball Ground was beginning to take shape and a then-record 30,557 packed in to see Derby take on Bolton Wanderers in December 1926, a couple of months after the new main stand on Shaftsbury Crescent was opened.
Jobey's Rams were scoring goals for fun but they were also conceding them at an alarming rate too, though they were establishing themselves firmly in the upper-reaches of the top-flight.
In 1929/30 they finished second in Division One for only the second time in their history, ten points behind eventual champions Sheffield Wednesday, having scored 90 and conceded 82 in 42 games.
1930 to 1940
Jack Bowers smashed the club's goalscoring record with 37 league goals in 1930/31 and 39 overall, at more than one per game.
Derby were continuing to sit solidly in Division One, never threatening honours but not looking like going down, and in 1932/33 Bowers extended his goals-in-a-season record to 43 in all games.
That tally still stands today.
Derby were FA Cup semi-finalists that season, where they lost 3-2 to Manchester City, and in the quarter-final the Baseball Ground's attendance record was broken again when 34,218 witnessed a 4-4 draw with Sunderland.
That figure was beaten once more the following season when Wolverhampton Wanderers were beaten 3-0 in front of 37,727 - this after a double-decker stand at the Osmaston End had been completed.
Bowers suffered a knee injury in 1934/35 so Hughie Gallacher came in for what now seems a modest £2,750, but he was soon filling his boots with 23 goals in his 27 games that season.
Derby finished second again the following year and the attendance record was smashed again as 37,830 were present to see Nottingham Forest beaten 2-0 in the FA Cup.
The Baseball Ground was really coming to life with the Normanton End stand now open.
Jobey was still in charge at the end of the decade as Derby finished sixth in 1938/39, only for football to be interrupted due to war once more.
In September 1932, Jack Nicholas had embarked on a run that saw him play an amazing 328 out of 331 league games up to the end of 38/39.
There was still more to come from the inspirational defender.
FA CUP Winners 1946
With league football still suspended, the FA Cup restarted in 1945/46 and it saw Derby enjoy their finest moment since formation in the previous century.
Ties were played over two legs that year and the Rams, now managed by Stuart McMillan, scored plenty of goals along the way as they saw off Luton Town, West Bromwich Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa to earn themselves a tie against Birmingham City in the semi-final.
The first game, played at Hillsborough, finished 1-1, setting up the Maine Road second leg nicely.
Two goals each for Peter Doherty and Jack Stamps, coupled with a clean sheet at the other end, sent Derby through to their first FA Cup final since 1903 and their debut at Wembley.
Charlton Athletic stood in the way of Vic Woodley, Jack Nicholas, Jack Howe, Jimmy Bullions, Leon Leuty, Walter 'Chick' Musson, Reg Harrison, Raich Carter, Jack Stamps, Peter Doherty and Dally Duncan.
Almost 100,000 people witnessed a tight affair that looked destined for extra-time, before an own-goal by Charlton's Bert Turner put Derby in front with just minutes remaining.
Turner, however, made immediate amends as his free-kick deflected in off Doherty to level the scores once more.
Then came one of the most dramatic moments in FA Cup final history.
Stamps found himself presented with a great chance to win the Cup for Derby and he looked to have done so with a shot that beat Charlton keeper Sam Bartram.
Amazingly, the ball burst on its way to the goal, the first time it had ever happened in a cup final.
Amazingly, it happened again in the following year's final, with Charlton once again involved.
Extra-time came and Derby were in the ascendancy once more.
Doherty added the second goal, and two strikes from Stamps gave the scoreline an emphatic look and it was left to skipper Nicholas to become the first - and so far only - Rams captain to get his hands on the FA Cup.
Reg Harrison (second left, front row above) and Jimmy Bullions (back row, furthest left) are the only survivors from the team on duty that famous April day.
1946 to 1950
Derby threatened a return to Wembley in 1947/48 but lost 3-1 to Manchester United at Hillsborough, with their goal that day coming from Billy Steel.
Steel had joined the Rams from Greenock Morton in 1947 for what was then a British record fee of £15,500, and Derby were starting to become big spenders.
They splashed out £24,500 to break the record again in 1949, for Manchester United's Jonny Morris, who went on to score 13 goals in his first 13 games.
That season Derby finished third, and it wasn't until the 1970s that they were up there again.
The Baseball Ground's record was smashed in February 1950 with 38,063 crowding in for an FA Cup tie against Northampton Town, a figure that would stand for two decades.
1950 to 1960
The start of the 1950s saw Derby decline rapidly and after finishing 17th in 1952, their lowest position for over quarter of a century, they were relegated the following year.
Stuart McMillan, who had guided the club to FA Cup glory in 1946, was sacked as manager in November 1953 with his current team struggling in Division Two.
Jack Barker, a hero of the 1930s, took over, though he was unable to prevent Derby dropping to Division Three North in 1955 after they finished bottom of the table.
Harry Storer took over for the 55/56 season and guided Derby to second in the table, on the back of a first-ever century of league goals, but it wasn't enough to take them back up again.
Midland League side Boston United caused a major FA Cup shock in December 1955 by winning 6-1 at the Baseball Ground.
In their side that day was one Reg Harrison, who had joined them the previous season and was the last of the 1946 heroes to leave Derby.
Storer's side clinched the Division Three North championship in 1957, aided by Ray Straw's record-equalling 37 league goals, and Derby reached three figures again with 111 - one more than the previous campaign.
Consolidation in Division Two followed, though they endured a difficult campaign in 59/60 that ultimately saw them finish fifth from bottom.
They were beaten 7-1 at home by Middlesbrough - a scoreline that equalled their heaviest-ever home defeat, and was matched again in 1990/91.
On the pitch that day, though not on the scoresheet, was a certain Brian Clough, whose influence would be felt greatly in the not-too-distant future.
1960 to 1970
Derby hovered around the middle to lower reaches of Division Two in the early part of the 60s and they made a managerial change at the start of 62/63 when Tim Ward took over from Harry Storer.
Both had been former Derby players before being handed the top job.
The first roots of the championship-winning squad began to grow with the emergence of local lad Ron Webster, and the signing of Welshman Alan Durban in 1963.
Jack Parry and Geoff Barrowcliffe became the fourth and fifth members of the 500-game club, but Derby were pulling up few trees in the league and having little success in the FA Cup.
Bobby Saxton became the first player to appear for the club as a substitute, replacing Barrowcliffe 14 minutes in to an opening-day game against Southampton in 1965.
The Rams broke their own transfer record in September 1966 when they paid £40,000 for Kevin Hector, a 21-year-old striker from Bradford Park Avenue who already had over 100 league goals to his name.
It would prove to be one of the most significant deals in the club's history.
Another significant appointment came in the summer of 1967, when Brian Clough replaced Tim Ward in the manager's hot-seat.
Clough installed Peter Taylor as his assistant and the pair embarked on a partnership that saw them enjoy unprecedented success at Derby.
Clough guided Derby to the League Cup semi-final for the first time, though in the league they finished 18th - one place lower than Ward's last season in charge.
Legendary Scotsman Dave Mackay arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in time for the 1968/69 campaign and he proved to be an inspiration as Clough's Derby romped to the Division Two title, seven points clear at the top.
Mackay, despite playing outside of the top-flight, was named as the joint Footballer of the Year that season, such was his impact at the Baseball Ground.
Derby ended the decade back up among the upper reaches of the English game once more.
In 1969/70, their first season back in the top-flight, they finished fourth, behind champions Everton, runners-up Leeds United, and Chelsea.
That would have qualified them for the UEFA Cup, only for a league disciplinary commission to deny them their first-ever appearance in European football after finding them guilty of administrative irregularities.
The Baseball Ground was complete and housed a record 41,826 in September 1969 as the Rams thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 5-0. The figure was never beaten.
That was Derby's record 22nd league game unbeaten, spread over two seasons. Their best in one season is 20.
Derby also broke the £100,000-barrier for the first time with the signing of classy midfielder Terry Hennessey from Nottingham Forest.
The greatest era in the club's history was just around the corner.
1970 to 1980
The Rams began the decade by winning silverware, the Watney Cup, an out-of-season invitational event, by beating Manchester United at the Baseball Ground.
Their transfer record was raised again, to £170,000 for centre-half Colin Todd, though in 1970/71 Derby finished only ninth in Division One - little indication of what was to follow.
Derby didn't lose a league game in 1971/72 until the middle of October, by which time they had established themselves among the chasing pack at the top of the division.
As the season went on there was a feeling that maybe, just maybe, the club from what was then just a town could ruffle the feathers of the big-city outfits and claim the championship for the first time in its history.
The title race went right to the wire and on May 1 1972, when Derby beat Liverpool in their final game of the season they were in pole position.
However, it was out of their hands. Both Leeds United and Liverpool, still with a game to play, could overtake them at the top of the table.
It was a nervous few days in Derby but the players - on an end-of-season trip to Majorca - had their dreams realised when both results went their way.
Derby, runners-up three times, were the champions of England for the first time in their history.
It also wasn't the only silverware they picked up during the season.
The Rams claimed the Texaco Cup, while their reserves won the Central League, completing an unprecedented trophy treble for the club.
They used only 16 players all season, of which just 12 could class themselves as regulars on the teamsheet, making their triumph even more remarkable.
And so to the continent.
European football came to Derby for the first time, and the Rams were dining at the top table of the European Cup.
Portugese giants Benfica were drawn out in the second round for a trip to the Baseball Ground, and nothing could prepare them for what lay in wait.
Even the legendary Eusebio was powerless as Roy McFarland, Kevin Hector and Jon McGovern sent the home fans into raptures with three first-half goals that put Derby in command.
The second leg, at the intimidating Estadio du Luz, was one Derby had to defend in but they did their job superbly to return home with a 0-0 draw and a place in the quarter-final.
Czechoslovakian champions Spartak Trnava were seen off and all of a sudden the Rams were just 180 minutes away from the European Cup final.
Standing in their way was the Grand Old Lady of Turin, Juventus.
The first leg over in Italy was a controversial affair.
Juventus won it 3-1, but McFarland and Archie Gemmill picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament, ruling them out of the return.
Derby gave it everything they had but it was not to be. Roger Davies was sent off, Alan Hinton missed a penalty, and their dreams of going all the way were over.
In the league they finished ninth, and in October 1973 the club was in turmoil after the resignation of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor following disputes with the board.
At a time when Derby County should have been establishing itself as one of the leading lights in the English game, they were back to the drawing board.
If the fans couldn't keep Clough, then only one man could seriously be considered to take over - the man who had helped galvanise the club upon his arrival in 1968.
Following in the footsteps of Clough and Taylor was never going to be easy, but Mackay - and his assistant Des Anderson - steadied the ship and indeed took Derby to third in 1973/74, earning them a place in the UEFA Cup.
They, too, would have plenty more to come their way.
In the summer of 74 they landed the experienced Francis Lee from Manchester City, and that would prove an inspired capture.
The UEFA Cup adventure lasted as far as round three, and defeat by Velez Mostar of Yugoslavia, though in the previous round the Rams had gone to Spain and put out Atletico Madrid after a penalty shoot-out.
Division One was tightly-fought all season and Derby were never too many points adrift of the leading pack, even if they weren't always part of it.
Davies, Hector and Lee added 12, 13 and 12 league goals each, though Bruce Rioch's 15 from midfield would ultimately prove crucial.
Davies, signed from non-league football a few years previously, netted all five in a win over Luton Town on March 29.
By that time Derby were hitting their best form of the season and were unbeaten in their last nine games, winning six.
A draw at Leicester in their penultimate game put Derby within touching distance of their second title in three years, and once again they weren't playing when they were crowned.
Instead, the annual awards night was taking place when news broke that nearest challengers Ipswich Town had blown their chances and Derby were champions once more.
A 0-0 draw at home to already-relegated Carlisle United on the final day of the season took none of the gloss away from what was another remarkable triumph.
Club legends paraded on the pitch, the trophy was given pride of place on a lap of honour, and another glorious chapter was added to Derby County's history.
Having been crowned champions again, the Rams splashed out £100,000 on Arsenal striker Charlie George - a bargain in the market.
George made his debut at Wembley in the Charity Shield, which Derby won 2-0 against West Ham United thanks to goals from Roy McFarland and Kevin Hector.
Derby had declined the opportunity to take part in the 1972 game.
George would also go on to score arguably the most memorable hat-trick in the club's history.
Another European Cup adventure got underway with victory over Slovan Bratislava, then came the ultimate glamour tie - Real Madrid, the true giants of the European game.
And Derby were in dreamland with a first leg on October 22 that surpassed all expectations.
George smashed home a wonderful first goal that sent the Baseball Ground crowd wild ten minutes in.
Seven minutes later it was two when George fired in from the penalty spot, before Real pulled one back on 25.
By half-time the Rams were 3-1 up thanks to David Nish and they received a stroke of good fortune in the second period when Real had a goal ruled out for offside - by the same Russian linesman who had awarded Geoff Hurst's effort off the bar in the 1966 World Cup final.
George netted his second penalty of the night and third of the game with 12 minutes left to make it 4-1 to Derby.
The return leg at the Bernabeu would always be tough but, sadly for Derby, Real turned on the style that had earmarked them as one of the great pioneers of the game.
They raced into a three-goal lead to level the tie by 55 minutes, but by 62 the Rams were back in it through Charlie George to lead on aggregate.
Derby were five minutes away from going through but a late Real goal forced the tie into extra-time, where Mackay's men had given their all but were beaten by another strike to go down 5-1 on the night and 6-5 on aggregate.
It had been a marathon encounter and one that showcased all that was good about the game.
Domestically, Derby were threatening to not only retain their title but add a first-ever Double in the club's history.
But when Charlie George dislocated a shoulder in March, having already scored 24 goals in all competitions, their hopes took a big blow.
Manchester United saw them off in the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, 2-0, and Mackay's Rams won just two of their last six games.
Still, finishing fourth was another fine achievement for the club from a provincial town in the East Midlands - Derby didn't even become a city until 1977.
The Rams were back in Europe, this time in the UEFA Cup, and broke their all-time record victory with a 12-0 thrashing of Irish minnows Finn Harps - Kevin Hector with five, Charlie George and Leighton James with hat-tricks, Bruce Rioch completing the scoring.
As had happened to Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, Dave Mackay and Des Anderson lasted just 18 months after winning the title before departing the club.
Reserve-team coach Colin Murphy took over temporarily and was given the job permanently in February 1977 after an unsuccessful attempt to lure back Clough and Taylor, who were now at Nottingham Forest.
Ron Webster broke the all-time appearances record with his 526th outing in April, but Derby dropped down to 15th in the table by the end of the season.
Murphy lasted until September 1977 before being replaced by Tommy Docherty, who quickly began to usher in a new era as the title-winning team began to break up through Docherty's extensive transfer dealings.
Docherty guided Derby to 12th in his first season but his much-changed team narrowly avoided relegation in 78/79 by finishing fourth from bottom, and Addison took over the reins for 79/80.
But after such a glorious decade, Derby ended it on a low note by finishing second from bottom and dropping out of Division One.
Twice champions, European Cup semi-finalists, that great night against Real Madrid - now the Rams were facing a return to the second tier.
1980 - 1990
Derby didn't threaten a return to the top-flight in the early years of the 1980s, instead they all too often looked like they would drop down again and end up in Division Three.
John Newman took over from Colin Addison in January 1982 and with the help of former favourites Charlie George and Kevin Hector, both now back at the club, secured Derby's status for another season.
Hector scored his 201st and final goal in his 589th and final game for the club on the last day of the season, a fitting way to bring a great career to an end.
Nobody has played more games for Derby than the man known as the King, and only Steve Bloomer has scored more goals.
Peter Taylor returned to the Baseball Ground - minus Brian Clough - with Derby in trouble in November 1982 as attendances dropped and results were getting worse.
Their second win of the season didn't come until December, but a long unbeaten run from the end of January to the end of April secured their safety.
The 1983/84 season saw an altogether different problem surface.
The threat of relegation continued to hang over the Baseball Ground but the threat of extinction was growing by the week due to the club's financial difficulties.
In April the club went to the High Court and after much work behind the scenes, Derby were saved and the winding-up petitions lifted.
But on the field, there was no way back. The Rams ultimately finished third from bottom, five points adrift of safety, and nine years after winning the league they were in the third tier of the English game.
Nine years after winning the FA Cup, in 1946, the same fate had fallen upon the club.
Roy McFarland, a legend as a player, had taken over for the last nine games of the season but by then the situation was helpless.
McFarland remained at the club as assistant to new manager Arthur Cox ahead of the 84/85 season, Derby's centenary year, as the club looked to rebuild.
Cox steered Derby to seventh in Division Three, and with the opportunity to add more quality to his squad for 1985/86 he did the trick.
The Rams finished third but there were no play-offs in those days so it was enough to earn them automatic promotion back to the second tier.
That season they took on the likes of Newport County, York City, Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic - how times can change in 20 years.
And after taking Derby up once, Cox repeated the feat the following year as the Rams returned to the top-flight.
Bobby Davison, having contributed 17 goals to the first promotion campaign, added a further 19 this time around and with valuable contributions from Phil Gee (15) and John Gregory (12), Derby romped to the title.
They were promoted in their 40th game of 42 by beating Leeds United at the Baseball Ground, and clinched top spot on the final day with victory over Plymouth Argyle to go up with a six-point cushion over their nearest challengers.
Robert Maxwell, who had helped rescue the club in 1984, took over as chairman, and the Rams began to splash the cash.
England internationals Peter Shilton and Mark Wright arrived - Wright for a record-smashing fee - and quickly became two of the finest players to pull on a Derby County shirt.
Goals were hard to come by in that first season back up, though the Rams finished a comfortable 15th despite suffering a record-equalling eight straight defeats midway through the campaign.
To remedy that, the Rams broke the million-pound barrier for the first time with the signing of Welsh international striker Dean Saunders in October 1988.
Saunders added five goals in his first four games to quickly become a hit with the Baseball Ground faithful, and he ended his debut season with 14 in 30.
Derby finished fifth in the table, helped by memorable wins away to Manchester United and eventual champions Arsenal, but were once again denied European football due to the ban on English clubs imposed following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985.
The Rams needed to build on that but investment wasn't forthcoming and when Paul Goddard - the perfect foil for Saunders - was sold to Millwall in December 1989, it was a clear indication that Maxwell was cutting back.
They flirted with relegation before eventually finishing 16th, though they did enjoy a double over Manchester United.
Shilton and Wright starred in England's run to the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup as Shilton also became the world's most-capped international player during the tournament.
The turn of the decade was, once again, ushering in a turn in the club's fortunes.
1999 to 2000
Derby began the new decade in decline and turmoil. Chairman Robert Maxwell had introduced a freeze on transfers and the Rams were only able to bolster their ranks with a couple of loan signings during 1990/91.
That had a disastrous effect on the team's form, and Arthur Cox's men suffered a club record 20-game winless run.
By the time they picked up three points on May 4, having not done so since December 1, they were, not surprisingly, already relegated.
And off the field it was time for change too.
Maxwell departed, paid off by the sales of Dean Saunders and Mark Wright to Liverpool for a combined fee of over £5m, and a new board of directors took over at the helm.
Money was scarce until the November 1991 arrival of Lionel Pickering, a local multi-millionaire, who would ultimately oversee some dramatic changes at the club.
On the field the Rams were looking for an immediate return to the top-flight, which would become the Premiership in 1992/93, and they came desperately close.
The season reached its final day and Derby needed to beat Swindon Town at home, and hope Middlesbrough slipped up, so they could sneak into second.
For a while things were going their way but while Derby did their part, Boro recovered and left the Rams in the play-offs.
There they lost to Blackburn Rovers in the semi-final, and despite some considerable spending - including doubling the transfer record to £2.65m on Craig Short - the Rams never threatened a tilt at promotion in 1992/93.
However, they did return to Wembley for the first time since 1975, in the final of the Anglo-Italian Cup.
The competition was for teams in the second tiers of their national leagues, and Derby faced up against Serie B side Cremonese in March 1993.
They fell behind early, Martin Taylor saved a penalty, Marco Gabbiadini equalised, and at half-time the 37,000-plus Rams fans were hoping for victory.
It wasn't to be however as the Italians netted twice more after the break, but for many Derby followers it was the first chance to see their side play at the famous stadium.
They were back at Wembley again the following season, but this time the prize was far greater.
Arthur Cox had resigned in the early part of the campaign and his long-time assistant Roy McFarland, a legend as a player, was handed the top job.
McFarland guided the Rams to sixth in what was now Division One, earning them a play-off place, and after semi-final victory over Millwall only Leicester City stood between Derby and the Premiership.
It all looked so good when Tommy Johnson opened the scoring in front of over 73,000 fans on a baking hot May day, but Steve Walsh equalised for the Foxes just before half-time.
The second half was a tense affair but late in the game, within the space of a couple of minutes John Harkes missed a sitter and Walsh won it for Leicester.
Defeat was cruel on Derby, while for Leicester it was success at the third attempt having lost in the previous two finals.
The play-off hangover was all too apparent as 1994/95 got underway and while Derby had their good runs during the season, they were never really up with the pace of the promotion challengers.
Key players departed during the season and by the end, another era in the club's history had closed when McFarland's contract wasn't renewed.
The Rams had finished ninth, and it was time for major change in the summer of 1995.
After weeks of speculation about who would take over, in flew the Bald Eagle - the experienced Jim Smith was appointed boss, and one of his first moves was to bring in ex-Rams midfielder Steve McClaren as his assistant.
Many of Cox's big-money signings left, though Smith was wily enough to often complete player-plus-cash deals to bolster his squad.
But by October, there was the feeling that something was missing - a spark, an inspiration, that extra influence.
And Smith, as was his way, delivered when it mattered.
In came Croatian sweeper Igor Stimac for £1.57m, the second-highest fee in the club's history, and that despite competition from across the continent.
"I want to play in the Premier League" were Stimac's prophetic first words, though his debut gave no clues as to what would follow - a 5-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers on November 4.
Twenty games later, on March 9, the Rams had embarked on an unbeaten run that had taken them to the top of the table.
Defeat at Sunderland ended that run, a record inside one season, and Sunderland went on to claim the title.
During the run it was also announced that the club would be leaving the Baseball Ground, its home for over a century, and moving to a new purpose-built facility on an up-and-coming city industrial unit called Pride Park.
Nerves began to set in and it was all down to the penultimate game of the season.
Derby County v Crystal Palace, second v third, and a win would be enough to send Smith's side up.
Dean Sturridge opened the scoring early on, Kenny Brown levelled for Palace almost immediately, and there couldn't have been many tenser occasions in the Baseball Ground's history.
Derby were back in front midway through the second half through a powerful header by Robbie van der Laan, the inspirational central midfielder signed by Smith and immediately installed as captain in the summer of 95.
There was no more fitting a man to score the winning goal and when the final whistle blew, the Baseball Ground erupted to scenes of great celebration.
Derby were heading to the Premiership - and with a new ground just over a year away, another exciting chapter in the club's history was getting going.
Consolidation in the first season in the Premiership and the last at the Baseball Ground was the aim, and with the aid of some astute signings, Derby managed it comfortably.
Republic of Ireland legend Paul McGrath arrived at the age of 36, barely trained during the week yet was a true rock come the weekend.
At the other end of the scale, 20-year-old Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope joined in March 97 and made his debut in a memorable 3-2 win at Manchester United, where he scored one of the great Derby County goals of all-time.
Arsenal were the last-ever league visitors to the Baseball Ground and somewhat spoiled the party by going away with a 3-1 win, but no matter - Derby were already safe, and looking forward to bringing the cream of the crop to their new home.
Ashley Ward scored the Rams' last goal at their historic home, and then netted their first at Pride Park - which had been opened in July by Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremonial occasion.
However, his record didn't remain in the books for long due to what was literally one of the darkest nights the club had faced.
In August 1997 Derby led Wimbledon 2-1 when, 11 minutes after half-time, the floodlights failed and proceedings were abandoned - not how they wanted to mark their first league game in the new surroundings.
Italian duo Francesco Baiano and Stefano Eranio arrived that summer, from Fiorentina and AC Milan respectively, and it looked as though the good times were heading back to Derby.
Eranio went on to become the first Ram to net at the new home.
The Rams produced some spectacular football in their first season at Pride Park and went unbeaten there until February 1998.
A challenge for one of the European places was a realistic one until six defeats in the last ten games saw them ultimately finish ninth.
The 98/99 campaign began solidly enough and six games unbeaten from the start left them second during the early weeks.
But inconsistency proved a problem as the Rams were never quite able to match their sparkling form of the previous year, although they did record a memorable 2-1 win away at Liverpool in October 98.
Soon-to-be-relegated Nottingham Forest were beaten at Pride Park in April by a late goal from Argentinian defender Horacio Carbonari, the club's new record signing at £2.7m, and the Rams went on to finish eighth - their highest placing under Smith.
Representative football came to Pride Park for the first time in February 1999 when England U21 took on their French counterparts in front of 32,865 fans.
A run to the quarter-final of the FA Cup suggested more progress, but the following season was a major step backwards.
The disastrous August 99 signing of Argentinian striker Esteban Fuertes didn't help matters as he was refused re-entry to the country following a training break abroad after irregularities were found with his passport, just ten games into his Rams career.
Only four wins in the first half of the season left Derby struggling near the bottom of the table so big bucks were spent.
Seth Johnson and Lee Morris had already arrived for £3m and £2m respectively, then Branko Strupar and Craig Burley both came in for £3m - along with the loan signing of Giorgi Kinkladze.
Belgian striker Strupar bagged the first goal of the new Millennium in English football, and looked a class player when fit.
Derby hung on to their Premiership lives and survived by five points, having only secured their safety on the penultimate day of the season.
Some good young players were starting to emerge, but it had been another difficult decade in the life of Derby County - and worse was to follow.
2000 to Present Day
Derby began the 2000/01 season by scoring goals for fun but they were also conceding at an alarming rate and found themselves in big trouble early on, particularly once the scoring dried up.
November 18 arrived and they were still without a win after 13 Premiership games, but they finally got off the mark by beating Bradford City 2-0.
To say they never looked back would be generous, as the spectre of relegation was always hanging over their shoulder, but Derby's form did pick up from that point.
Another astute signing by Jim Smith, Nigerian centre-half Taribo West, helped add experience and quality to the defensive ranks and his presence played a crucial role in developing Derby-born teenager Chris Riggott alongside him.
Riggott went on to claim the player of the year award in his first season but it wasn't until the penultimate game that safety was assured.
The task that day was immense - Manchester United at Old Trafford, already crowned as runaway Premiership champions.
But Malcolm Christie's superb first-half goal was enough to give the Rams all three points, and keep them in the top-flight for another season.
The prestige of full international football came Pride Park's way in May 2001 when England took on Mexico in front of a then-stadium record crowd.
Goals from David Beckham, Robbie Fowler, Paul Scholes and Teddy Sheringham earned a star-studded Three Lions side a 4-0 win in a game that also saw former Rams favourite Chris Powell appear as a half-time substitute, to a great reception.
It was, and still is, one of the stadium's most memorable occasions.
Italian superstar Fabrizio Ravanelli arrived from Serie A giants Lazio in the summer of 2001 and scored on his debut, an opening-day win against Blackburn Rovers, but by the time another win arrived in November a lot had changed.
Jim Smith, so inspirational in winning promotion at the first attempt and the man behind a great few years, had moved on after declining a role as director of football.
In his place was Colin Todd, a legend as a player from the 70s, who had already been in place as Smith's assistant.
But Todd's Derby won only four games and he too was soon gone, sacked in January after a bad run of results that also included the indignity of a 3-1 home defeat by Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup.
It was the first time a Third Division side had beaten a Premiership club away from home in the FA Cup since the leagues were changed in 1992.
Todd's replacement was another former club hero, John Gregory, who had played a starring midfield role in the 1980s revival.
Gregory oversaw three wins and a draw from his opening six games, raising hope of survival, but after winning 3-1 at Bolton Wanderers on March 16 it all went wrong.
That proved to be the Rams' last top-flight win and seven successive defeats later they were relegated, though their fate had been on the cards for a long time.
An eighth defeat followed, though they did at least ensure they didn't go out of the Premiership on a losing note thanks to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on the final day - Marvin Robinson with their last top-flight goal.
Hopes of an immediate return the following season were raised on the opening day by a 3-0 thrashing of Reading in front of an almost-capacity crowd, but it was one of many false dawns.
Most of the big-money signings of recent years stayed at the club, including Ravanelli, but Premiership outgoings on a Football League incoming were always going to be impossible to sustain.
Many of the high earners were moved elsewhere during January - the first such transfer window for Premiership and international clubs - and with very little freedom in the market Gregory was forced to rely on some promising youngsters coming through.
One of those was winger Lee Holmes, who became the club's youngest-ever player on Boxing Day at the age of 15 years and 268 days.
Nine days later he achieved the same fate in the FA Cup as the competition's most youthful star.
Another 15-year-old, midfielder Tom Huddlestone, had already been among the substitutes for league games but was not used.
But throwing in the kids to a difficult situation is never preferable, and a run of nine games without a win - seven defeats - from February into March saw Derby in danger of another relegation.
Gregory was suspended in March over allegations of "serious misconduct", plunging the club into even more turmoil with off-field financial difficulties really starting to bite.
In came George Burley as interim manager with a simple brief of keeping Derby in the division during the final seven games of the season.
Three wins were enough to achieve that aim, and they were enough to get Burley the job on a permanent basis when Gregory was sacked in the summer of 2003.
Gregory launched an appeal but the matter was ultimately settled out of court.
The 2003/04 season opened up in desperate style, a 3-0 home defeat to Stoke City, and by the end of October only three wins were on the board.
'The board' also turned into a key phrase during October as the Rams were taken over by a three-man consortium of businessmen in a surprise deal.
The club went into temporary receivership, allowing the deal to take place, but the financial problems were worsening and fans were becoming concerned about what the future held.
A long winter was shaping up on the field and it was clear the team was in a major relegation struggle.
Loan players came and went, with only Everton midfielder Leon Osman a real success, though some smart late-season signings of experienced players helped the cause.
One of those men, striker Paul Peschisolido, made an immediate impact and scored twice in a famous 4-2 win over local rivals Nottingham Forest - thanks to the legendary coffee cup incident.
Forest keeper Barry Roche lined up a feet-only clearance after a back-pass but the ball bounced up off a rogue coffee cup sat on the pitch in front of him, Roche's clearance looped up into the air and Pesch gleefully tapped it in to an empty net.
Safety was finally secured on the penultimate day of the season though the Rams ended up just a solitary point above the relegation zone.
One positive was the emergence of Huddlestone, who appeared in all but three of the season's games - despite not turning 17 until late December 2003.
In stark contrast, 2004/05 proved to be a memorable campaign for all of the right reasons - and it almost had a dream ending.
George Burley raided the continental market to bring in Spanish midfielder Inigo Idiakez and Danish midfielder Morten Bisgaard, and domestically he snapped up former England U21 striker Tommy Smith and experienced Coventry centre-half Mo Konjic.
Konjic's season was disrupted by injury but the other three proved inspired captures, as did Polish international striker Grzegorz Rasiak upon his September arrival.
Rasiak went on to score 17 goals in all competitions and Idiakez showed all of his class from 300 games in La Liga as the Rams equalled their club record 12 away league wins.
Along the way they secured a memorable Boxing Day success at Wigan Athletic, who went on to win promotion to the Premiership, along with a 3-0 Pride Park destruction of Nottingham Forest - who went on to be relegated to League 1.
That helped them to fourth in the newly-formed Coca-Cola Championship, and a place in the play-offs, where they came up against Preston North End.
But without Rasiak and Idiakez for the first leg they went down 2-0 at Deepdale, and although the pair returned - but were clearly not fit - for the return, Derby were up against it.
Rasiak missed a late penalty in a heartbreaking 0-0 draw that saw Preston go through to Cardiff, where they lost to West Ham, while the Rams' dreams were shattered in cruel fashion.
Grzegorz Rasiak strikes a post from the penalty spot in the 2005 play-off semi-final against Preston.
That was Burley's last game in charge as he left soon afterwards, so once again Derby County were at a time of change despite having enjoyed a successful season.
It was a season that also saw the passing of the club's most legendary boss of all-time, Brian Clough.
The man who guided Derby to their first league championship in 1972 sadly passed away after illness in September 2004, which sparked emotional scenes as tributes were left in abundance at Pride Park.
The stadium also hosted Clough's memorial service which was attended by thousands of fans, and friends and family of the great man.
Gone but never forgotten - and the A52, which links Derby and Nottingham, has since been renamed Brian Clough Way in his honour.
On the field but not football-related was the stadium's first concert in July 2005 when the legendary Rod Stewart performed to thousands of delighted fans.
Next into the hot-seat after a summer of speculation was former Bolton Wanderers assistant boss Phil Brown.
It was his first managerial role but after a promising start things quickly turned sour.
An abysmal away record coupled with home form that wasn't much better, along with some less than successful loan signings, meant Brown's Derby were soon in trouble.
They were drawing too many games for comfort, but following two humiliating defeats - 6-1 at Coventry City and 3-1 at League 1 side Colchester United in the FA Cup - Brown's time was up, just seven months after taking over.
The board turned to Academy manager Terry Westley, who had helped nurture the club's young stars of recent years.
Teenage defender Lewin Nyatanga had already made his senior breakthrough earlier on in the season and was about to become a record-breaking Welsh international, while one of Westley's first decisions was to throw in 17-year-old Giles Barnes for a full debut in his first game in charge.
Barnes's emergence was a key factor in the club managing to stay just above the relegation zone, though fears of the drop hung over Pride Park until safety was secured with three games left.
By that time director of football Murdo Mackay had left, as had chairman John Sleightholme, and the club was in the midst of a takeover battle.
The battle was eventually won by a consortium of local businessmen, all Derby County fans, who completed the deal in time to be welcomed by the crowd before the final day of the season.
Their arrival ushered yet another new era in, but their immediate impact was felt more off the field as the club's financial status - which had been worsening by the month - was secured, and Pride Park Stadium returned to local ownership.
The managerial position was once again up for grabs and this time the club managed to secure the services of Preston North End's Billy Davies, who had been a target of the previous administration 12 months back.
Before he and the players returned for pre-season training the stadium once more became a gig venue as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of the world's biggest bands, rocked to well over 20,000 revellers.
Back to football and Davies - who had guided Preston to two successive play-offs and was in charge when they beat the Rams in 2005 - set about his rebuilding task.
He began to re-shape the squad, bringing in his own players, and made an impressive start to his tenure.
By December he had guided the Rams to second in the Championship, their highest position since falling out of the Premiership in 2002, and six wins from six in November earned him the manager of the month award.
Davies also oversaw the club's first win at Leeds United since November 1974, which went down particularly well with the fans, and by the halfway point of the season they were still sitting in the top two.
It got even better after Christmas for the Rams as they hit the top of the table on the back of a run of eight successive victories in all competitions, including six in the league for the second time during the season.
Davies was rewarded as January's manager of the month as he continued to keep the Rams right in the hunt for promotion as the season went on.
Indeed, at the start of February, following a 1-0 win at Southampton they opened up a six-point advantage at the top of the Championship.
But it was never going to be straightforward in the race for the Premiership.
Birmingham City were hot on Derby's tails and with Sunderland getting up a head of steam while on a remarkable run, the heat was on.
Defeats away to both in the space of a fortnight at the end of February and the start of March meant that Derby sat second with nine games to go.
A run of five games without defeat after the Birmingham reverse kept the Rams back in the hunt though they would ultimately rue four dropped points over Easter thanks to draws with Leicester and Coventry.
Along the way it was announced that teenage ace Giles Barnes was the Powerade Coca-Cola Championship Player of the Month for March after an outstanding run of games.
Sunderland and Birmingham took advantage of games in hand to move ahead at the top and when they both won over the final weekend of April, Davies's side knew they had to pick up three points of their own at Crystal Palace to keep the automatic promotion race alive.
They went down 2-0 in the Sunday afternoon kick-off, sending the top two up to the Premiership, but that was the beginning of the story.
Derby were already guaranteed third place in the Championship by the time they beat Leeds United 2-0 at Pride Park on the final day of the season, and results elsewhere meant they would face Southampton in the play-off semi-final.
Steve Howard was the catalyst for victory in the first leg at the St Mary's Stadium.
The big number nine, Derby's newly-crowned Player of the Year, netted with a superb header and a composed penalty to turn things around after the Saints took an early lead.
Derby had the advantage going into the second leg, at Pride Park, and when Darren Moore scored after just 102 seconds it looked as though they were well on their way to Wembley.
But Southampton had other ideas. Jhon Viafara equalised almost immediately, and he levelled the aggregate score early in the second half.
Leon Best's own-goal swung the tie back Derby's way again and they were 90 seconds from victory when Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak came back to haunt his old club, making it 3-2 on the night and 4-4 overall.
Extra-time came and went, and with the rain pouring down penalties were required to separate the two sides.
Best missed the first, and after the Rams scored their first four it was down to ex-Derby ace Inigo Idiakez to keep Southampton in the competition.
The Spaniard is normally deadly from set-pieces but stepped up and blazed his kick high over the bar, sending Derby to Wembley and sparking off great celebrations at Pride Park.
That meant a trip to the new national stadium, behind schedule and over budget but ultimately worth the wait.
Dubbed the richest game in football, due to a reported £60m for the winners due to increased TV rights and other spin-offs, the Championship play-off final would be between Derby County and West Bromwich Albion for a place in the Premiership.
Derby had beaten West Brom at Pride Park, West Brom had beaten Derby at the Hawthorns, and despite finishing eight points adrift of the Rams it was Tony Mowbray's Baggies who were the favourites.
They perhaps had the better of the game in front of a near-75,000 crowd, but they reckoned without Derby's grit and resilience that had taken them to the brink of the Premiership.
The crucial moment came just after the hour when January signing Stephen Pearson broke into the box to slide home the only goal of the game from Giles Barnes's low cross.
It was the perfect time for the Scotsman to score his first goal in a Derby shirt and crown his return after being sidelined by a foot injury.
Derby held firm and when the final whistle blew, the scenes were like few ever witnessed in the long and distinguished history of the club.
Team skipper Matt Oakley and club captain Michael Johnson climbed the steps to jointly lift the play-off final trophy and signify Derby's return to the top-flight after five years away.
The celebrations continued over the next few days with as many as 20,000 supporters lining the streets of the city and cramming on to the Pride Park pitch to greet their heroes a day later.
Derby broke their transfer record over the summer of 2007 when they splashed £3.5 on Welsh international striker Robert Earnshaw, who arrived from Norwich City.
But it was skipper Matt Oakley who scored the opening goal of the season, three minutes in to the first game at home to Portsmouth, with a fine finish from the edge of the box.
And a Derby-born son of a Rams legend later equalised to earn a point on his debut - Andy Todd, whose father Colin won two championships in the 1970s, dived in to head home and secure a 2-2 draw.
The first win of the season came in September as new signing Kenny Miller marked his debut with a spectacular strike to see off Newcastle United, but by the end of October it was still the only victory thus far.
And there had been a number of changes in the boardroom over recent months.
Jill and Peter Marples left during the summer, at the same time as Trevor Birch was appointed as chief executive having held similar roles at Everton, Chelsea and Leeds United.
Birch departed in October and by the end of the month there was a change at the top with former Hull City owner Adam Pearson taking over as executive chairman, with previous incumbent Peter Gadsby remaining on the board of directors.
The difficult time continued on the field and there was another change in the managerial hotseat at the end of November.
Billy Davies left his position following a meeting with Adam Pearson, where it was decided that it was "mutually in the best interests of both parties" for Davies to depart.
The hot-seat wasn't vacant for long however as just two days later, in came former Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesda