OUT with the old, in with the new. That was the message Hull City had last night been hoping to convey during a reunion with two of the heroes from the meteoric rise that took the club to an FA Cup final and a debut in European competition.
By full-time, however, it was Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone reflecting on a job well done as their old club’s shortcomings were laid bare for all to see.
Davies netted his first goal in Rams colours since moving to Pride Park in a £500,000 summer deal, while Huddlestone stroked the ball around with the masterful control that characterised much of his four years in the East Riding.
Seeing confirmation of the two huge holes left by the departure of a duo who boast 40 more appearances for the Tigers between them than the entire starting XI in amber and black was not, though, the worst part of the evening for those hardy souls who followed their side down the M1.
Instead, it was how meekly City capitulated in the wake of Seb Larsson squandering a gilt-edged opportunity to equalise in the first half when he produced an early contender for ‘worst penalty of the season’.
Hull’s ‘defending’ – for want of a better word – was abysmal. Opened up almost at will, Leonid Slutsky’s side showed little of the desire or gumption required to even survive at this level, never mind thrive.
Not one player in amber and black emerged with any credit on a night that should have the alarm bells ringing all around the KCOM Stadium.
Certainly, many more repeats of this shoddy defensive effort and it is a second relegation battle in as many years that lays ahead rather than the push for promotion that Slutsky had spoken of just two days ago.
The Russian, when reflecting on a summer overhaul that had seen 11 new faces arrive to replace the exodus of star names, wanted his players to smash the accepted template for success in the Championship by sustaining a promotion challenge with a squad packed full of youthful promise rather than experience.
Judging by last night’s toothless efforts, Slutsky – who apologised to Hull fans afterwards – may have to do a major rethink on that point after the ruthless manner in which Derby capitalised on the naivety of the visitors.
Time and time again, City committed the sort of error that would shame a schoolboy footballer. Ola Aina set the tone for much of the horror show that followed with a needless lunge at Matej Vydra on the edge of his own penalty area in the 14th minute.
With Vydra’s set-piece ability well known, the Chelsea loanee’s actions were akin to footballing suicide. Sure enough, Vydra drove the resulting free-kick past Allan McGregor and the rout was under way.
The Rams doubled their advantage just after the half-hour, a neat passing move leaving the visitors sufficiently bewildered for Vydra to have the simple task of firing in from close range.
Worse followed six minutes before the interval, as Davies, despite displaying his aerial prowess in 145 appearances for the club, rose unopposed to head in a corner from four yards out.
Out of respect to a club he led out at Wembley at the 2014 Cup final, Davies opted not to celebrate and instead contented himself with a jog back to halfway.
This commendable show of restraint, though, couldn’t persuade some in the away end to stick around, as a trickle of fans made their way to the exits.
No doubt their frustration at the game being as good as over was only added to by the gilt-edged opportunity that their side had squandered at 1-0.
Aina being wrestled to the ground by Tom Lawrence when straining to reach a cross left referee Bond with little choice.
Larsson assumed responsibility, fending off an attempt by Kamil Grosicki to take the ball.
Sadly for the Tigers, the Swede’s determination to take the penalty was not matched by his execution as a truly lame effort cleared Scott Carson’s crossbar by almost 10 yards.
Those Tigers fans who headed for home after Vydra’s second strike missed Derby completing their joint-biggest home win in 20 years with two more goals.
The first came in stoppage time just before the break, more woeful defending allowing Vydra to tee up Bradley Johnson.
Derby’s fifth arrived just before the hour, Michael Hector’s risible attempts to clear the danger seeing the ball find Johnson who produced a curled effort round McGregor.
Further punishment was avoided but as any warm applause from the away seats at the final whistle was reserved for Davies and Huddlestone, the shortcomings of a window that saw so many experienced older heads leave could not be denied.
Derby County: Carson; Baird, Davies, keogh, Olsson; Huddlestone, Johnson; Lawrence, Vydra (Martin 79), Weimann (Russell 73); Nugent (Winnall 73). Unused substitutes: Mitchell, Forsyth, Pearce, Bennett.
Hull City: McGregor; Aina, Dawson, Hector, Kingsley; Henriksen, Larsson; Bowen, Toral (Irvine 70), Grosicki (Meyler 75); Dicko (Diomande 74). Unused substitutes: Marshall, Tomori, Clark, Luer.
Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).