Probably the best place to start, trying to get some context about the level of spite that surrounded this match, is afterwards in the dressing room when Brian Clough is jabbing a finger at one of his players and accusing him of taking a bribe from Peter Taylor to throw the game.
Clough's relationship with Taylor, a 17-year working association that began under the leaking rafters of Hartlepools and took them to two European Cups with Forest, had already broken down, irretrievably. The laughter had stopped. Taylor was supposed to have retired, taking his leave from Forest, only to turn up at Derby. In Clough's mind, Derby was his territory. Taylor was suddenly a menace. He called him a "rattlesnake" and a "snake in the grass". He tore him to shreds in various newspaper columns. "If I was driving along the A52 between Derby and Nottingham and saw Taylor broken down, thumbing a lift, I wouldn't pick him up," he said. "I'd run him over."
Years later, he regretted those remarks. Standing in the church for Taylor's funeral, he wished he could take them all back. Yet back then, Clough's obsession with his old pal could be measured by what he said to Willie Young, the Forest central defender. "Just do one thing for me, Willie. Play well in this match and I won't ask another thing of you."
Forest, fourth in the First Division, were abysmal. Derby, 22nd in the league below, caused the shock of the third round, with a former City Ground great, Archie Gemmill, curling in a beauty direct from a free-kick.
Afterwards the Forest players remember it being the angriest they have ever seen Clough. "It had completely blown his mind," Young would say. "I've never seen him under so much pressure."
It didn't help that Clough left the ground at the same time that Young was talking to Taylor outside. "His face was purple," Young said. "I shook hands with Pete and then got on the coach. Clough ran to the back where I was sitting and wagged his finger at me: 'Did you shake hands with that shithouse Taylor?'
"He ran to the front of the bus repeating those words then ran to the back again. Then he got off the bus and ran round the back pointing up at me through the window: 'That's the last thing you ever do at this club.' He was a like a man possessed."
Stuart Pearce understood the rivalry. "No disrespect to Derby," he said once. "But I have to say I could never work for that club in any capacity. And I mean never. People might say I'm being ridiculous but that's just the way it is. Even if I was desperate. Even if they were the only club around, I couldn't do it. I'd rather go on the dole and take my chances."
All of which brings us to the start of the 1989-90 season. The previous year Pearce had clattered into Ted McMinn and, as they lay in a heap, the temptation was too much for old Psycho. "I bit him right on the nipple." So it's fair to say there was lingering bad blood. And Pearce being Pearce, he made sure to get his retaliation in first.
It wasn't the worst tackle he ever committed. For that, you would probably have to refer to a home game against Arsenal when he almost snapped David Rocastle in two. But it was in the top five definitely – late, scything, old school, one for the crowd. Get the physio on.
McMinn had been expecting it. His team-mate Mark Wright had already tipped him off. "He'd warned me I'd better watch my back as Psycho was bragging at a recent England game he was going to take me out."
What nobody had really expected was Brian Rice getting in on the act. Rice, for those who may not remember him, was often seen as a weak link in Clough's second great team, thin and gangly with a shock of ginger hair and a capacity for drifting out of matches he had never really drifted into.
He played on the left wing, rarely liked to tackle and for a couple of years was the player the crowd liked the least. And yet he grew to have cult-hero status, whereby they still sing his name now. One, because of an exquisite chipped goal he scored at Arsenal in the 1988 FA Cup quarter-final. And, two, because of that game against Derby. Of everything that has happened between these clubs over the years, it is difficult to think there has even a more calculated, cynical and X-rated challenge than the one Rice perpetrated on poor McMinn. The Derby player was forced off in the end. "Battered and bruised," he remembers.
You may have noticed the common theme so far: a fair bit of aggro and not a great deal about actual football. It's not deliberate. There have just been very few classics between these sides over the years.
This, however, was a humdinger of a match and, for Derby, perhaps their most satisfying win against the old rivals. A 4-1 rout at the Baseball Ground in 1979, when Forest were the champions of Europe, pushes it close. Yet Derby were relegated that season, which tends to tarnish the memories of Peter Shilton's flapping that day and the 3-0 lead they put together in the space of five minutes.
In 2009, however, they had not won at the City Ground since October 1971. They were behind after 57 seconds and it was 2-0 after 13 minutes. Forest were all over them.
Then Derby cleared their heads and turned the game upside down.
Rob Hulse's header gave them hope before half-time. Paul Green equalised on the hour and then Kris Commons, of all people, completed the recovery with a deflected left-footer. Commons used to boast of being an avid Forest supporter. Of all the ways for Forest to lose, it's difficult to imagine one more harrowing than one of their own inflicting the final, decisive blow.
One of those nights that reminds you that the Baseball Ground, at night, under the floodlights, was a great place to watch football compared to some of the soulless bowls we get now.
It was the year after Brian Clough, face bloated and pockmarked through the ravages of drink, had retired and Forest were now under the management of Frank Clark, looking good to get straight back into the Premier League. A win would virtually guarantee it. Derby, however, were in the playoffs and trying to stop their arch-rivals from getting automatic promotion.
They also had a right-back, Gary Charles, who had joined them from Forest the previous summer. Charles made 56 appearances in the Garibaldi red. Yet he also had a habit in his early years of making dodgy back-passes – and he took it with him to his new club.
Forest were leading through Colin Cooper's free-kick when Charles turned to play the ball back to his goalkeeper, Martin Taylor, and found himself under pressure from Steve Stone. Suddenly a routine piece of defensive work had turned into something very different. Stone used to be known as "Bulldog" because of the way he chased down opponents.
Charles would have known all about that. But he was too casual. That was always his problem at Forest – and Stone stuck out a foot. Charles wasn't looking precisely where he was aiming the ball and, suddenly, everything went into slow motion … the ball had gone over Taylor's head and into the net. Two-nil. As own goals go, a beauty.
The 5-2 thumping in 2010 might be Forest's stand-out result in the post-war era but that night at the Baseball Ground had far greater consequence. It was Forest's last win on that muddy old pitch before it closed for business. Their promotion was confirmed three days later.
We can blame Nathan Tyson for this one – though there are people at Forest who still argue to this day there is a crucial difference between someone waving a corner flag as he runs past the away end and someone doing it directly at the away supporters.
Either way, Tyson landed a £5,000 fine from the FA despite his protestations that he had merely intended to go over to the A-block section of the City Ground, where the most boisterous Forest supporters are housed.
He never got that far, of course, because once he picked up the flag all hell broke loose.
Robbie Savage accused him of "mindless incitement", saying the striker was lucky not to start a riot. Forest's response was that Savage had been pretty provocative himself with his own celebrations after a Derby win at the City Ground the previous season. These clubs, you quickly learn, do tit-for-tat pretty well. The FA fined the two clubs. Tyson, meanwhile, joined Derby two years later.
Nigel Clough – lovely, polite, smiling Nigel Clough. Most of the time, anyway. A few years ago I made the mistake of writing that Nigel took more after his mother, Barbara, than his father. A colleague of his at Pride Park picked me up on it a while back. "Absolute rubbish," he said. And all things considered, he was probably right. The young man, or "the centre-forward" as Brian referred to him, has just been very good at keeping it from us sometimes.
Forest-Derby can bring out the worst in him, too. The McMinn game (see above) ended with Derby's winger fighting with Clough in the tunnel. McMinn had heard Clough shouting: "Go on, piss off!" when he was substituted. He waited for him, the police got involved and when Clough senior heard what had happened he went to find the guy who had been grappling with his son.
"He marched me into the Forest changing rooms where the players were downing beer and Stuart Pearce was standing on one of the lockers leading Ian Woan, Steve Hodge and Des Walker in an anti-Derby song," McMinn recalls.
"Nigel had retreated to the shower but was ordered out by his old man. He bowed his head like a pupil in front of the headmaster and complained about what I'd called him. But much to my amusement, Clough senior immediately took my side. 'Well,' he said. 'You are a daddy's boy and I think you should apologise to Mr McMinn. He deserves some respect after coming all the way from Derby to play a game of football.' Nigel went bright red, mumbled an apology and shook my hand. His father then ushered me back to the away dressing room and wished me a pleasant trip back down the A52 … what a man!"
All of which is a far cry from what we have now. The politics have certainly had an effect on Nigel. Perhaps some of it goes back to the shabby way his father was pretty much forced out of the City Ground. Maybe it's a lingering grievance about the chain of events that started with a director leaking stories to the Sunday People about Brian having a drink problem. It's difficult to be certain. When he was at Burton Albion Nigel used his old contacts to make sure Forest were very aware he was open to the idea of managing the club.
It never happened and, since then, the man who decorated the Forest team with so many goals – an integral part of the side that reached Wembley six times from 1989 to 1992 – has given the distinct impression he has absolutely zero affection left for his old club. Derby, he has said, are the only club that could have persuaded him to leave Burton. One interview comes to mind a few years back when he could barely bring himself to mention Forest by name (all "the club down the road" etc).
Billy Davies, in his Forest days, used to have a theory that Clough was too wrapped up in it all, that it wasn't the normal, likeable Nigel when this fixture came around. "I've got great respect for the guy and got on very well with him before he became Derby manager, but something has changed and it may be the pettiness of Forest-Derby and what goes around it." It's not the worst theory.
Anyway, it's a crisp January afternoon … Derby are on their way to a scrappy 1-0 win when the two sides became embroiled in one of the shoving matches for which this fixture has become synonymous in recent years. It takes place by the dugouts and Davies goes in to try to pull his players away. Clough also heads into the scrum, just behind Davies, and with so many bodies around it isn't particularly easy to see precisely what happens next.
The footage does show, however, Davies look behind him and the expression on his face turn to a mix of anger and, possibly, pain. Afterwards, he accuses the Derby manager of delivering a knee into the back of his leg. "I told him I wouldn't have minded him doing it to my face but to do it when my back was turned was cowardly."
Davies, it should be noted, played his own considerable role when it comes to the deterioration in relations between the two clubs over recent years.
On this occasion he was so angry he refused to shake Clough's hand at the final whistle. "I said to him he was out of order. He tried to claim it was an accident but he knows, as well as I know, that it was no accident. If he's happy to sit on an electric chair and tell a truth or a lie then I'm happy to sit on an electric chair and we'll see what the outcome is."
The FA opened an investigation but decided there was not enough evidence to proceed. Both clubs, just for a change, were fined for failing to keep their players under control. "There's a lot of poison in and around this fixture," Davies said. "I've played in Old Firm games and I've never come across anything like it – not what happens on the field but the stuff that goes around it. The Old Firm game is the worst in the world, but what goes on here is petty. I've been involved in Old Firm games that have never had this kind of pettiness and I'm quite surprised, to be honest."