Derby County 0 Birmingham City 1
So much has been written about Steve Bruce's five years as Birmingham City manager over the last week that if an average man made two sit-down trips to the loo a day, every day for the rest of his life, he almost certainly wouldn't have time to read it all.
But it took just one 90 minutes display — and a goal from one particular player — to suggest that Bruce isn't in as deep doodoo as many thought he was.
Sure, the Blues manager has made his mistakes. He wouldn't have found his team in the supposedly 'desperate straits' of being ninth in the Championship table — the unacceptable league position that did for his good mate Bryan Robson at The Hawthorns a month ago — if he hadn't.
But it all gets conveniently forgotten that there have been many good times too. And, aside from the obvious high of promotion that May Monday at the Millennium Stadium, if you had to pick just one among the 58 months he has now had in charge, his best month's work would have to be that of January 2003.
That was the month in which he transformed Blues from being a team bound for a return to the division from which they had just arrived into one that, by season's end, had established themselves in the Premiership.
Bruce signed six players that January. Two — Pietr Swierczewski and Ferdinand Coly — played a game and half between them and have long since been forgotten. One — Christophe Dugarry — was the chief inspiration behind Blues' survival that spring and will never be forgotten, even if his lame efforts the following season at times justified having the 'erase' button pressed on him.
Jamie Clapham's work with Blues is now done and he is off fighting another promotion battle across the Midlands at Molineux. And the absence of the towering presence of the injured Matt Upson since February is one of the main reasons why Blues not only went down but have found themselves misfiring over the last month in their efforts to get back to the promised land of the Premiership.
Only one of Bruce's half-dozen January 2003 transfer window signings was in Saturday's team at Pride Park, Stephen Clemence. And, like an old raincoat that never lets you down, and on a day when David Dunn's hamstring sadly did let him down again, this most faithful of midfielders came up with the goods.
It would have been enough if, on the 19th occasion Bruce has recalled him to the team, Clemence had merely come in and done what he was expected to do — win the ball, use it well, work his socks off and generally boss the engine room with calmness and authority.
But he had an ace up his sleeve when, seven minutes from time, and owing quite a lot to a big deflection off Derby County midfielder Morten Bisgaard, Clemence struck the game's only goal.
There was still time for many a fingernail to be shredded among the raucously supportive 2,500-strong travelling contingent before the welcome relief of the final whistle. But serious students of Blues statistics among them would have already known it was 'Game Over'.
Clemence had only previously bagged four goals for Blues. But Saturday's strike kept up his proud record that, whenever he scores, Blues always win.
After being a fixture in his first season and a half at Blues, Clemence has now started just 28 of their last 89 league games over the past two and a bit campaigns. And, for all the Muzzy Izzets, Darren Andertons, Mehdi Naftis, Salif Diaos, Nicky Butts and Fabrice Muambas he has tried out in his attempt to find another Robbie Savage, Bruce may now acknowledge that one of his biggest mistakes has been not simply sticking with his 'Mr Dependable'.
Had hard-working Blues' efforts merely have earned a gritty point from Derby, they would still have done all that was asked of them.
It needed three sharp saves from Maik Taylor during Derby's best spell as he twice denied Bisgaard's left-foot efforts and also made it look easy in foiling Steve Howard's header. And Blues' biggest escape came early on when they survived a handball shout in the box as Jonathan Stead ran the ball against the arm of an unwitting Radhi Jaidi.
Equally, it looked as if Bruce's luck might be out when Blues were denied two penalties of their own.
When Derby keeper Lee Grant dropped Gary McSheffrey's cross, Dunn went for the loose ball, but tripped over his legs and his appeal was waved away. Just two minutes after the luckless Lancastrian's afternoon had come to a sad end, Blues had a good case for another.
Nicklas Bendtner's storming run brought desperate measures from Blues old boy Michael Johnson, who tried to foul him just before the young Dane shot. Bendtner got enough of a contact to make Grant save, but it should still have been a spot-kick.
Blues also have only themselves to blame in front of goal. Sadly, the two best chances both fell to Dunn's replacement, the confidence-sapped Cameron Jerome.
Bendtner's glorious first-half backheel set up the first, opening up the Derby box like Aladdin's grotto, only for Jerome to finish like Widow Twankey, firing feebly straight at the keeper.
Then, when Bendtner again played Jerome in after the break, this time he trod on the ball.
But, after seeing the ball ping in and out of Derby's box like a demented dog, the once-again impressive Gary McSheffrey had the coolness to thread it back to Clemence outside the area, the Blues midfielder took aim with his trusty left-foot, his shot looped off the challenging Bisgaard and spun teasingly over the head of the helpless Grant. And that was enough for Bruce and his travelling Blue army to all look rather pleased.
>> Bruce's plans on track - click here