On a weekend stuffed to the brim with grudge matches across the continent, this East Midlands derby cemented its reputation as one of the most fiercely contested in Europe. Against a complicated tapestry of closely intertwined managerial, player and family links, the game played out under a cold, grey sky and a whirlwind of passionate emotion.
Paul Williams - probably still reliant on his satnav to direct him to the City Ground - stuck with the team that earned him a very respectable point at Hull City in midweek. Darren Wassall also earned a point in his previous game but in rather contrasting circumstances - three up at Rotherham United with seven minutes to go only allow victory to slip through his fingers.
Previous encounters have provided a litany of seminal moments for both sets of fans, inspiring incalculable posters, Facebook memes, t shirts and 'I Was There' moments from ten men victories, horrific career threatening injuries, overflying planes and enough red cards to open a Clintons shop in February.
Predictably, some bruising challenges were a theme in the opening exchanges. Federico Macheda was sent flying, Ryan Mendes was wincing and Jamie Hanson made fully aware of Chis Cohen's presence. It was a promising start for the visitors who looked reasonably composed - or at least as composed as one might expect in the opening minutes of a frenetic derby, forcing the issue and earning a number of corners, which came to naught.
Forest utilised a pressing game to good effect: exemplified in one passage of play in which Derby tried to play it out from the back while a number of red shirts chased them down like red arrows. The home team just about navigated the incoming blur of red but having down so, were unable to retain possession and the ball bobbled apologetically out of play. Twice. This was a game of fine margins and high energy.
Midway through the first half, some lovely link up play between Ben Osborn and Cohen provided an opening. Again, nothing came of it but Williams' team were playing with a sense of freedom while the home crowd appeared to be a little subdued. This was manna from heaven for the travelling supporters.
In typical derby fashion, this was immediately followed by the home team's first sight on goal as Marcus Olsson curled over a cross more inviting than cupcakes but Chris Martin narrowly failed to connect.
This signalled a change in dynamics as Derby edged forward and started to find gaps in that elusive space between midfield and defence. Nonetheless, this awakening from Derby was brief as Forest continued to press effectively and looked dangerous with the pace Ryan Mendes unsettling the Derby rearguard.
After a frenetic start, the game simmered down a little and although Forest were the more assured team, there was a sense that both sides were happy to get to the break without condeding the first goal.
The home team looked fired up after the interval and worried Dorus de Vries on two occasions within three minutes as he was forced to deal with a wicked corner and then was relieved to see a Bradley Johnson shot fly wide of his post.
From then on, the match slotted back into the groove established in the first half: Derby struggling to make inroads as Forest kept them at arm's length, contributing to the home fans' increasing twitchiness. Only Tom Ince looked like breaking the deadlock and only then, intermittently and without real conviction. Chris Martin urged his team mates to squeeze up in order to exert some pressure on the visitors.
Despite a flurry of substitutions midway through second period, the pattern remained the same. Neat and tidy in possession, Forest had only the visibly tiring Macheda as an outlet. Osborn and Mendes sporadically arrive in support but the Cape Verdian's decision making was particularly poor today, denying his team any clear cut opportunities. At the back, Michael Mancienne was imperious.
It was going to require precision to break the deadlock and rather surprisingly, it came from the foot of Derby left back Marcus Olsson in the 80th minute. He slotted the ball neatly beyond de Vries' despairing dive. Eric Lichaj, often caught wondering infield, might feel he could have closed the danger down quicker but in fairness, received little support from Mendes all afternoon.
With barely a Rizla paper between the two teams in terms of performance, Olsson's moment of precision was the finest of differences between these two foes. The Brian Clough Trophy will spend the summer in Derby after a long spell in Nottingham and Darren Wassall can look ahead to the rest of the season with much to play for. For Forest, thoughts now turn to whatever upheaval the summer holds.