Forest have only picked up four points from their opening six matches of the 2020-21 campaign to sit 20th in the table, while Derby have gathered just three points to occupy 21st position.
The Reds were actually staring at their fifth league defeat of the season as they trailed entering the latter stages of Tuesday's clash, but Sammy Ameobi came up with a 79th-minute leveller at the City Ground.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a desperately disappointing start to the season for Forest, who sacked Sabri Lamouchi after four straight losses.
The team appear to have made immediate progress under Hughton, though, and another positive result on Friday would strengthen suggestions that they are capable of pushing much higher up the table.
Forest are actually unbeaten in their last six Championship games with Derby and recorded a 1-0 victory over the Rams in the corresponding match during the 2019-20 campaign.
Derby, as mentioned, have also had an incredibly disappointing start to the campaign, picking up just three points from their six matches to occupy 21st position in the table.
The Rams recorded an impressive 1-0 victory away to Norwich City before the October international break but have lost their last two matches, both 1-0, to Watford and Huddersfield Town.
Tuesday's defeat to Huddersfield would have particularly disappointed the supporters, and there is simply no downplaying the importance of Friday's contest at the City Ground.
There remain huge question marks over the future of head coach Phillip Cocu, but a win on Friday could be the type of result capable of acting as a springboard for a team full of talent yet lacking in confidence.
Nottingham Forest Championship form: LLLLWD
Derby County Championship form: LLLWLL
Derby County form (all competitions): LLLWLL
Centre-forward Lewis Grabban is yet to find the back of the net during a disappointing start to the season, but the 32-year-old should again lead the Forest line.
As for Derby, player-coach Wayne Rooney is still absent, with the former Manchester United striker in quarantine after a coronavirus scare.
Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Samba; Christie, McKenna, Figueiredo, Ioannou; Yates, Colback; Lolley, Freeman, Ameobi; Grabban
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Wisdom, Davies, Clarke; Byrne, Bird, Shinnie, Buchanan; Lawrence, Waghorn, Holmes
We say: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Derby County
Both teams will be desperate to pick up a positive result, but we are finding it difficult to predict either to triumph. Forest's form under Hughton has certainly improved, but they were far from convincing against Rotherham last time out, and we are backing a low-scoring draw on Friday night.