Wayne Rooney scored a sublime free-kick as Derby put their midweek defeat to Luton well and truly behind them with a thumping 4-0 victory over Stoke on Friday night.
After a relatively quiet start at Pride Park, the Rams effectively nullified the visitors' threat with quickfire goals, first when Martyn Waghorn headed home (21) and then, within three minutes, when Chris Martin rifled into the roof of the net (24).
The Potters did gain some momentum after the break but without any chances to match, they were quickly put to the sword when Rooney rolled back the years with a perfect free-kick (67) and Jayden Bogle added the gloss to the win with a powerful strike soon after (74).
Victory means Phillip Cocu's men reach the 40-point mark and stay 14th in the Sky Bet Championship table, while Stoke remain in trouble just five points and two places above the relegation zone.
How Cocu's ruthless Rams ran riot
With both sides in the midst of a renaissance period, after a season in which they have no doubt underachieved, it was a surprise that the game started slowly. Derby goalkeeper Ben Hamer had a few crosses to deal with, but it was a largely uneventful start.
Then, within a matter of minutes, the Rams had claimed a vice-like grip on the game, with two moments of individual brilliance from Waghorn and Holmes giving them a comfortable two-goal cushion.
There were 21 minutes on the clock when Waghorn leaped to head home Craig Forsyth's cross after he had found the left-back unmarked and just three minutes later, Martin struck a powerful effort into the roof of the net after Holmes had picked up a long ball, swivelled, and squared for the Scot.
Michael O'Neill's Potters began to move through the gears after a disappointing first 45 minutes, but they could not find a way to test Ben Hamer, with Sam Vokes left frustrated in attack and later denied a penalty after a tussle with Andre Wisdom.
Looking to bounce back from the midweek defeat to Luton, Derby boss Phillip Cocu made two changes to his side, with Max Lowe and Jason Knight replaced by Craig Forsyth and Chris Martin, while Josh Tymon replaced Bruno Martins Indi, who missed out through illness, for Stoke.
But with 23 minutes to play, the stadium erupted when Rooney hit the postage stamp with a simply stunning free-kick from the edge of the area after Tom Lawrence had been bundled to the deck by Josh Tymon.
The introduction of Thibaud Verlinden provided a late spark for Stoke, but when Bogle collected Rooney's searching pass from halfway and drove a powerful effort into the top corner, there was no going back.
Man of the match - Duane Holmes
It was an emotional evening at Pride Park for Holmes, who was a close friend of the Matlock Town player Jordan Sinnott who passed away last weekend. He wore a black armband as a mark of respect and appeared to be close to tears during the minute's applause after 25 minutes.
He capped the occasion with a brilliant assist for Chris Martin's goal. He swivelled just beyond halfway and drove forward with real purpose, before squaring for the striker to score his seventh goal of the season.
What the managers said…
Derby's Phillip Cocu: "I think it was one of our best games. We struggled in many games with production, especially in the last part of the pitch. Sometimes one more goal makes a difference, so you can play your game with more confidence and control. That's what we did today.
"For the first 35 minutes we played excellent and we felt in the second half we did the same; controlled without conceding. Great goals and a great performance."
Stoke's Michael O'Neill: "It was a reality check for us. I thought we were too passive, to be honest. We had the opportunity to be aggressive and I felt we should've been in terms of our pressing. I felt we were a yard short in the first half.
"Poor in possession; technically we were poor with the ball and we got punished with two goals coming in quick succession, as they did. They showed how clinical they were. Disappointing night for us."
Derby have another busy week ahead, with an FA Cup fourth-round replay against Northampton scheduled for Tuesday evening; Stoke host Charlton at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday, February 8.