Just five points separate the two sides with a third of the campaign now played, but it is the Rams who find themselves better positioned to challenge for a top-two spot.
It may have been a shaky start to the campaign for Derby, with no wins in their opening five games, but Paul Clement has now adapted to life as a full-time manager and guided his side into automatic promotion contention.
Prior to the disappointing setback at rivals Forest last time out, County had not tasted a single defeat since the opening month of the campaign - a run that saw the Rams claim 26 points from a possible 30.
Derby really were the team to avoid throughout September and October, but their inability to pick up maximum points early on in Clement's tenure means that they are still very much playing catch-up.
Four points is now the difference between themselves and joint-leaders Hull City and Brighton & Hove Albion, while Burnley and Middlesbrough have also accumulated more points across the opening 16 games.
Clement himself admitted that the 1-0 loss at the City Ground acted as a 'wake-up call' for his players, suggesting that a quick response could be on the cards this Saturday.
While their unbeaten run of 10 league games may now be at an end, Derby can still boast an impressive home record that has seen them win each of their last four games.
Factor in that three of those four outings ended with the Rams keeping a clean sheet, helping to maintain their reputation as one of the best defensive sides in the division, and it is clear to see why they have been so tough to beat.
One of the key aspects of this positive run of form has been the impressive displays of Chris Martin who, after a slow start to the campaign on a personal level, has since chipped in with a combined six goals and assists in his last eight appearances.
Recent form in Championship: WDWWWL
It is fair to say that, across his 13-month tenure as Cardiff manager, Russell Slade had not faced any pressure quite like what was witnessed heading into the recent Reading game.
A largely mixed set of results, including four draws - three of which ended goalless - throughout October had some fans calling for a change.
The perceived bland style of play adopted by the ex-Leyton Orient chief was cited by many as the key reason why they wanted a new man brought in, but Slade certainly relieved some of that building pressure by orchestrating his side's return to winning ways last time out.
After one win in seven, in which just two goals were scored by the Bluebirds, City bounced back with a 2-0 victory over fellow playoff chasers Reading to climb into a more-than-respectable seventh place.
While the defensive stats make for good reading, with only Derby and Hull conceding fewer thus far, the attacking stats perhaps highlight Cardiff's biggest downfall to date.
A run of more than nine hours before a Cardiff player found the net, ending when the returning Kenwyne Jones struck against the Royals, suggests that far more needs to be done up top.
Should Jones remain fit he could help solve that problem, having scored with three of his four headed attempts on target so far this season and provided his side with an altogether different threat.
No team has scored more goals from headers (7) than Cardiff, in fact, but the latest set of fixtures running up until the New Year could ultimately decide the manager's long-term fate.
Recent form in Championship: DWDDLW
Slade has a big decision to make in the middle of the park, with Peter Whittingham returning to the squad following his automatic one-match ban.
The mercurial midfielder has not hit his top form this term, but he has scored in two of his last three appearances against the Rams at the iPro Stadium.
Elsewhere, Jones is likely to start even after his international exploits with Trinidad and Tobago over the past fortnight, while an out-of-form Joe Mason may drop out.
In terms of the hosts, they are still without Max Lowe following the defender's latest setback from a hamstring injury, meaning that Stephen Warnock will remain at the back in the absence of Craig Forsyth.
Jacob Butterfield could be in contention for a starting spot after coming on as a second-half sub against Forest, and there is likely to be a place in squad for Craig Bryson after his recent injury layoff.
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Johnson, Thorne, Butterfield; Russell, Martin, Weimann
Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Malone; Whittingham, Dikgacoi; Pilkington, Ralls, Noone; Jones
Head To Head
Derby ended a run of seven matches without a win against Cardiff in the last meeting between the pair when recording a 2-0 win in South Wales.
The Bluebirds remain unbeaten in their last four visits to the iPro Stadium, though, with this fixture finishing in a 2-2 draw last season.
We say: Derby County 0-0 Cardiff City
Cardiff's visit is the first of four matches in succession for Derby against teams currently in the top nine in the Championship, so they will need to be on top of their game over the next month or so. The Bluebirds have become the masters of goalless draws, but supporters would likely take that outcome against a side boasting a fine home record of late.