The Reds had never won when they had conceded the first goal in the Championship, but the new manager has installed new determination in their ranks - although they required every ounce of it as ten-man Sheffield Wednesday threatened to hold on for a draw.
The visitors had gone ahead through Jermaine Johnson in the 28th minute, with Nathan Tyson hitting back for the Reds five minutes later.
And despite the sending off of Francis Jeffers for a shocking tackle, the Sheffield side looked likely to hold on for a point until Luke Chambers headed Forest to victory in the 75th minute.
The first threat came from Forest as Arron Davies, looking to impress on a rare start, fed a neat ball to the feet of Tyson whose first touch robbed him of a promising opening.
Wednesday's most lively influence was Johnson, whose second shot of the evening after Forest had failed to clear a corner arrowed narrowly wide.
A Lewis McGugan free-kick, delivered from wide on the left flank, bent inches wide of the far post as Chambers tried to connect.
But it was from a set-piece that Wednesday edged their way into the lead as Forest failed to deal with another corner.
Darren Potter's cross was met by the head of Richard Wood, with Johnson swivelling on the edge of the six-yard box to lift the ball high into the roof of the net.
The lead was to last less than five minutes, however, as Garath McCleary sent Tyson driving clear, with the striker lifting a calm finish over the advancing Lee Grant and into the net.
And Wednesday suffered an additional blow as they found themselves down to ten men.
Jeffers could have few complaints at his red card after lunging into a reckless challenge on Joe Heath, leaving the young full-back in an agonised heap.
It was Wednesday who should have taken the lead for a second time after the break with Marcus Tudgay heading badly wide with the goal at his mercy after Paul Smith had failed to collect on the edge of his six-yard box.
Meanwhile Forest , with in-form Robert Earnshaw having limped off with an injury in the 55th minute, were lacking punch.
But just when it seemed Wednesday would hold firm, McGugan sent another testing free-kick into the danger zone and Chambers rose high to glance an inch-perfect header into the back of the net off the inside of the post.