Kieran Dowell, on loan from Everton, delivered a finishing masterclass to bring a halt to Hull’s run of seven points from their previous three games.
There was still time for Jarrod Bowen - Hull’s own bright prospect - to make Forest nervous with a lovely curling effort from the angle of the penalty area, and for Michael Hector to plunder a late second.
But it was ultimately a night to forget for the Tigers as they ended the day in 17th place in the Championship.
It was a day that had begun with a fans protest at the ownership of the club by the Allam family, with a section of the Tigers supporters marching on the KCOM Stadium prior to kick-off before squeezy balls were thrown onto the pitch when the clock struck 19 minutes and 04 seconds - in representation of the year Hull were formed.
Hull showed plenty of endeavour going forward, not least through Bowen down the right flank whose cutback for Kamil Grosicki created the best chance which Forest’s Joe Worrall blocked.
But they were susceptible to Forest’s movement on the break, falling behind on 29 minutes when Dowell - who played in the England Under-20s team that defeated Venezuela in the World Cup final in the summer - ran at the heart of a retreating home defence and lashed the ball beyond Allan McGregor from 20 yards.
It was almost two in first-half injury time when Ben Osborn flicked a volley onto the cross bar.
Moments after Fraizer Campbell saw his header cleared off the line by Jason Cummings, Forest got a second on 71 minutes when Dowell fired home off the inside of a post from Barrie McKay’s cutback.
Bowen gave Forest a few nervy moments with his stunning riposte 14 minutes from time, curling the ball beyond Jordan Smith.
But Forest went straight back up the other end and struck a third, Dowell completing his hat-trick from the spot after David Meyler had tripped substitute Tyler Walker.
Hull continued fighting and pulled a second goal back when Hector lashed the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.
A frantic last 20 minutes to an otherwise forgettable game. Kieran Dowell was the difference. Hull showed urgency towards the end and credit to them for hanging in there and fighting, but it came too late.