Derby headed in to the encounter having gained the upper hand during the two Championship league meetings, winning 2-0 at the KC Stadium and emphatically 4-0 at the iPro only last month.
However, playoff games are an entirely different proposition, and whether it was down to nerves or a lack of confidence, the hosts simply never got going after Abel Hernandez’s opener for Hull.
It was an utterly forgettable afternoon for Derby, and Bruce later mocked his side’s opponents by claiming his side were so comfortable that even he could have played in goal.
“I could have played in goal today - they could've wedged me in somewhere," Bruce told Sky Sports.
"In big games you want your big players to turn up. All of the lads that have played in the Premier League, their experience showed today.”
“It was a really, really good performance from start to finish, which in a big game is always nice to see. I can't really recall my goalkeeper having to make a save. We were comfortable and worthy winners.”
No team has ever overturned a two-goal deficit to reach the Championship playoff final, therefore Andrew Robertson’s last-minute third has all-but booked his side a place at Wembley.
The return leg at the KC Stadium will be played on Tuesday, and despite Derby boss Darren Wassall remaining upbeat, deep down he will know that this tie is seemingly already over.
A big summer lies ahead for Derby, and owner Mel Morris has some important decisions to make starting with the appointment of a permanent manager as they will look to go one further next season.