Martyn Waghorn's first-half goal was enough to earn Derby County their fifth straight home win as they edged past Preston North End on Saturday.
The Rams' first-half display in particular caught the eye, once again showing power and pace going forward but not bringing with it the goals that should perhaps have come from several bright attacks.
Tom Lawrence in particular pulled the strings going forward, while Max Lowe was impressive at left-back and Krystian Bielik strong in the centre of the pitch, making a Preston side flying high in the division look very ordinary as the visitors struggled to put much together other than from set pieces, of which they were handed plenty to try and profit from in the second-half.
But the Rams held firm and can again take heart from having made Pride Park something of a fortress in recent weeks.
Lawrence drilled a 25-yarder wide of the target five minutes in as the Rams began well, the same player having passed up a better opportunity to shoot moments earlier when making space in the penalty area.
North End replied with Patrick Bauer blazing over the top from eight yards when the ball broke to him after a free-kick out wide, before the Rams lost Graeme Shinnie injured soon afterwards with George Evans entering the fray to replace him 15 minutes in.
The hosts then came agonisingly close two minutes later as a fine move involving Lawrence, Chris Martin and then Duane Holmes ended with the latter crashing a volley back off the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
Then Lawrence burst clear down the inside left channel but on his weaker foot hit a low effort which keeper Declan Rudd pushed wide.
Preston were inches away at the other end when a poor defensive header from Craig Forsyth landed at the feet of Jayden Stockley whose half volley was inches wide of the far post.
A second injury retirement then saw Mason Bennett replaced by Waghorn before the half-hour mark had arrived, Waghorn's first job being to run on to a neat through ball from Holmes but seeing his shot diverted onto the roof of the net by Rudd.
But Waghorn's luck improved three minutes later as he put the Rams in front. Lawrence's corner from the left was flicked on by Curtis Davies and Waghorn, in front of the goalkeeper, was able to divert the ball home with his belly from a couple of yards out.
Preston couldn't formulate a fightback before the break despite one or two promising moments, the narrow lead remaining with the Rams as the half closed.
The Rams began the second-half well, Krystian Bielik threading a ball in to Waghorn who shot low straight at Rudd.
Preston were denied by the offside flag when Tom Barkhuizen turned the ball in from close range following a corner, the referee also appearing to signal a handball offence too, Jayden Bogle then arrowing an effort just wide after good work between him and Lawrence in the opposite penalty area.
Waghorn was wide moments later as again Bogle caused problems, then Lawrence flashed a volley over the top from the edge of the penalty area as Preston didn't deal with a cross.
Preston were still a threat, Barkhuizen volleying wide from another set piece not cleared by the hosts and then Daniel Johnson shooting over the top after an error at the back.
Derby played a dangerous game late on and gave away far too many free-kicks in their own half, but they defended them well and were able to see the game out without Kelle Roos being seriously tested.
21 Kelle Roos
3 Craig Forsyth
4 Graeme Shinnie (George Evans 15)
5 Krystian Bielik
10 Tom Lawrence
19 Chris Martin (Andre Wisdom 78)
20 Mason Bennett (Martyn Waghorn 28)
23 Duane Holmes
25 Max Lowe
33 Curtis Davies (c)
37 Jayden Bogle
Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Jamie Paterson, Kieran Dowell, Jack Marriott
1 Declan Rudd
2 Darnell Fisher (Billy Bodin 46)
4 Ben Pearson
6 Ben Davies (Jordan Storey 72)
8 Alan Browne (c)
11 Daniel Johnson
15 Joe Rafferty
20 Jayden Stockley (Paul Gallagher 46)
21 Patrick Bauer
24 Sean Maguire
29 Tom Barkhuizen
Subs not used: Connor Ripley, Ryan Ledson, David Nugent, Brad Potts
Ref: Tim Robinson
DERBY: Waghorn 33