The Rams, however, are down in 15th in the Championship and will hope to climb into the top half while denting Forest's hopes of promotion at the same time.
Forest have gone under the radar somewhat but, should they win their game in hand against Derby, they would move onto 28 points for the season - level with Preston, Leeds United and Swansea City.
It would be a big step for Sabri Lamouchi's side to only be outside an automatic promotion place due to goal difference - assuming they do not beat Derby by a very unlikely seven-goal margin.
Forest's opening-day defeat to table-topping West Bromwich Albion and their subsequent draw with promotion favourites Leeds saw many turn their attention elsewhere, but they followed that up with a nine-game unbeaten run in the Championship, before a pair of successive defeats against Wigan Athletic and Hull City dented their progress.
Derby started the season with a 2-1 win over Huddersfield, but then failed to register another victory in their seven subsequent Championship games.
Phillip Cocu's side have since won four of their last seven as they work their way back into form, but the Rams have been plagued by inconsistency even in this period, failing to win back-to-back games even once in this run.
Their campaign has also been marred by the incident involving Tom Lawrence, Mason Bennett and former club captain Richard Keogh, which has seen the latter seriously injured and sacked for gross misconduct.
However, Lawrence and Bennett remain involved and the former scored both goals in Derby's 2-0 win over Middlesbrough last time out.
Nottingham Forest form: WDWLLW
Derby County form: DWLWLW
Forest manager Lamouchi is without long-term absentee Tendayi Darikwa until next year after he suffered an ACL injury in pre-season.
On-loan defensive midfielder Alfa Semedo is also expected to miss the contest with a back problem, but he should return after the international break, with Samba Sow and Yohan Benalouane given the same timescale.
Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Samba; Cash, Worrall, Figueiredo, Ribeiro; Watson, Silva, Yates; Lolley, Grabban, Ameobi
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Roos; Bogle, Davies, Clarke, Lowe; Bielik, Shinnie; Marriott, Holmes, Lawrence; Martin
We say: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Derby County
Forest have had a strong season but have dropped off a little in their last few matches, while the opposite is true for Derby. Given the bitter nature of this derby clash, neither side is likely to give an inch and the Rams will be determined not to be beaten again. Forest are slight favourites, but it's hard to split the two, and a fiercely-contested draw could be the result of this one.