"Where are the goals going to come from" a fellow North Ender asked me after the game and there was some value in his statement as we had very few goalscoring opportunities in a sloppy performance in the East Midlands.
Preston had plenty of possession in the game but seldom threatened Scott Carson in the home goal.
A poor penalty concession from our point of view allowed Derby a guilt edged chance and Matej Vydra tucked it away even though Chris Maxwell got his hands to it.
It was just about what Derby deserved on the evening but North End lost little in defeat, didn't play badly and on another day could certainly have taken something from the game.
I thought Tom Huddleston was the difference in the two teams but alas we had no Ben Pearson to counter his dominating threat in the middle of the park.
North End could have been one down early on when Maxwell lost the ball on the touchline and the shot that came in went just beyond the far post in what would have been a very embarrassing moment for the Preston keeper.
North End were getting plenty of the ball but the final pass was seldom reaching its target and our best chance of the first half came from a Robinson free kick that Carson did very well to stop.
Both sides huffed an puffed a little as the game ping ponged from one end to the other without much really happening.
PNE old boy David Nugent was causing his usual nuisance but on the evidence of the first half I think both managers would be quite satisfied to being going for the half time brew still being on level terms.
Nugent missed a sitter early in the second period as Darnell Fisher made a tremendous block as the former North End striker was about to put the ball into an empty net.
Then came the penalty that cost us the game and Greg Cunningham must take his share of the blame for catching the referees eye by manhandling the Derby forwards at corners.
There was much pushing and shoving in the box and the linesman on the far side flagged for a penalty and referee Geoff Eltringham had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Vydra duly converted despite a valiant attempt from Maxwell and North End never really got close to levelling the game save with a late Alan browne shot through a crowded box that Carson managed to hold on to with 20 odd thousand holding their breath.
So North End suffer their first league defeat under the guidance of Alex Neil.
No excuses really we just dropped our intensity level ever so slightly and we missed Pearson in the middle of the Park.
Ben Davies came in and did a decent job in what was a 3-4-3 formation moving to a 5-4-1 as required.
A disappointing night for the 939 North End fans inside Pride Park in a total attendance of 24,371.
Four points is not a disaster from the first three league games and the manner of our play has been very good to watch for the majority of the time.
However, like every club in this division, we need to strengthen and I think what this defeat at Derby will have highlighted to the manager are one or two areas where he needs reinforcements before the window closes, otherwise it might be a draughty autumn and winter ahead.