The Rams headed into the clash coming off the back of a 2-2 draw with leaders Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend; a game that could ultimately have gone either way but the points were deservedly shared.
Derby made a couple of important changes for the visit of Bristol, namely dropping key players George Thorne and Chris Martin to the bench and starting Darren Bent up front with Tom Ince further inside.
It was a gamble by boss Paul Clement, yet it worked out brilliantly as former Blackpool ace Ince netted a hat-trick while fellow forward Johnny Russell finished off the rout.
Writing on Twitter after the game, Higginbotham praised the hosts and hinted at more to come.
Great win for @dcfcofficial tonight. Things starting to fall into place nicely for them. Players know what's expected now from manager.— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) December 15, 2015
In all honesty the 4-0 score-line probably flattered Derby but with such a busy schedule on the horizon both supporters and staff will not complain one bit.
Bent’s inclusion seemed to give Ince more room, allowing the talented forward to come in to his favoured number 10 role and wreak havoc as Bristol failed to contain him.
It was the 23-year-old’s first ever professional hat-trick, having previously scored nine braces throughout his young career to date, including a few for Derby.
The victory moves the East Midlands side back up to third in the table, two points shy of both Brighton and Middlesbrough who meet this coming weekend at the Amex stadium.