Phillip Cocu believes his side’s analysis of Preston North End is what gave them the edge at Pride Park.
Martyn Waghorn’s goal in the first half proved decisive, turning the ball home at the far post after Curtis Davies had flicked on Tom Lawrence’s corner.
Preston were not without their chances, Tom Barkhuizen having a goal ruled out for offside and Jordan Storey hitting the post.
But despite having the better of the second half, North End were outclassed in the opening 45.
Cocu believes that the opening exchanges was right up there with the best that that he has seen from his side.
He said: “We knew it’d be a difficult game, three wins in a row, second in the table, everyone fit.
“They played with the line up they use most of the time, they’re not an easy team to play.
“But we really analysed well how they played and what they try to achieve in order to get into their favoured positions.
“The back four and also the two holding midfielders were very important in that aspect today
“It was one of the best 45 minutes I’ve seen from the team.
“A great combination of a tactical execution of the game plan, loyalty in keeping doing what we wanted to do and showing everyone that we enjoy playing together as a team.
“With the balls, the movements, the touches.
“That’s what you want to see from the team.”
With Preston’s resurgence in the second half, the Rams were under pressure for longer periods of the game.
The County boss would have liked to have seen his side increase their lead and put North End out of the game as he thought anything less than a win would have saddened him.
“We could have made it easier for us if we’d have scored another goal because then it breaks the opponent’s resistance.
“You saw with the 1-0, around 72 minutes, we were getting back and couldn’t really place a real dangerous counter attack.
“But the team recognises this better and better so you don’t force it, to go forward with it.
“You just try to keep your organisation and if you don’t score the second done you make sure you keep a clean sheet.
“This is a positive development.
“Some players were really active on that part of the game in this game.
“It would have been a shame to have a draw here when you play 60 minutes of great football.”