Troubled Derby ended a miserable week in style as Max Bird's spectacular goal paved the way for a deserved home win over in-form Stoke.
Facing the prospect of a 12-point deduction after announcing on Friday they would go into administration, the Rams responded superbly as Bird curled a 25-yard shot into the top corner on his 21st birthday.
Moments later Curtis Davies met Graeme Shinnie's floated free-kick ahead of the on-rushing Stoke goalkeeper Josef Bursik and flicked a header into an empty net.
City pulled a goal back against the run of play when Mario Vrancic teed up former Derby midfielder Tom Ince to slot in his first league goal since July 2020, but the hosts withstood late pressure to claim a first home win of the season.
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Looking to salvage something positive on the pitch after the toughest of days off it, the Rams duly obliged with a dominant first-half display against a Stoke side who arrived boasting their best start to a season for 17 years, with 14 points from seven matches.
Lee Buchanan had a shot cleared off the line by Harry Souttar early on before Bird's first senior Derby goal in 78 appearances and Davies' first goal for four years put them in command.
Wayne Rooney's side began the day as the league's lowest scorers with four goals in seven matches, and had failed to score twice in any game, but they almost made it 3-0 before half-time when Bursik denied Sam Baldock one-on-one.
Ravel Morrison missed a gilt-edged chance to wrap things up when he fired wide of an open goal, and the miss seemed to inspire the Potters.
Moments after Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos made a point-blank save to deny Sam Surridge, Ince netted his first goal since July 2020, and Ben Wilmot almost levelled late on, heading Vrancic's header narrowly over the bar.
Derby's first win in four matches lifts them up to 12th with 10 points, although this will drop to minus-two when they go into administration next week, while Stoke stay fifth despite their second defeat of the season.
"I thought they were excellent under very difficult circumstances. It's a massive win for us with all the negativity and all of the problems surrounding the club.
"Them players have gone out and put some pride back into this football club with that performance and that win."
Stoke boss Michael O'Neill:
"We lose the goal and then we lose the second goal and at that point I thought our reaction was poor but our reaction in the second half was excellent.
"We got a goal back and really should have got ourselves level with the opportunities we had.
"We had two really good chances before we did score, but I can't begrudge Derby the win, they've had a really difficult 24 hours.
"I thought they showed great spirit in how they played, the crowd were terrific as well."