Nelson Oliveira struck after just five minutes and, as the confidence flooded back into Nottingham Forest veins, that allowed the home side to maintain their shape and pick Derby off on the break.
The Championship's form team were unable to fashion much in the way of clear chances and it was the Reds who came closest to adding to their early goal.
Every single one of Dougie Freedman's players gave their all for the cause as the manager's relentless optimism about his side was finally justified with a crucial victory.
A win in the East Midlands derby was ultimately not enough to keep Stuart Pearce in the hotseat last season but Freedman heads into the international break with a crucial three points behind him.
25,114 watched the action, testament to the poor season that Forest have had to date but those in the home sections of the stadium will enjoy their weekend all the more.