Games under the City Ground floodlights, with the mist rolling in from the River Trent are usually memorable for those of a Nottingham Forest persuasion.

Rewind just shy of a year to 30th January 2018 and a game on Trentside under those said lights proved memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Aitor Karanka was taking charge of his second home game as Reds boss and witnessed a performance so poor that several members of the squad departed just days later.

The opposition that day, Preston North End, arrive on Trentside this weekend with both teams experiencing different fortunes of late.

Goals from Billy Bodin, Tom Barkhuizen and Daniel Johnson saw The Reds humiliated on home soil; with supporters resigned to the fact that Forest would face a real battle to stay in the Championship once again.

(Photo by Mick Walker – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Forest did pull clear of the relegation zone of course; although that fateful night in January outlined the size of the challenge when it came to reviving Forest’s fortunes.

Nothing other than the three points on offer can be won for Forest on Saturday, although the game will perhaps offer the club’s supporters a little reminder as to exactly how far the club has come.

Renewed optimism around the City Ground

Come 3pm tomorrow, The Reds will probably line-up with an attacking quartet of Joe Lolley, Joao Carvalho, Matty Cash and Lewis Grabban and that in itself represents significant progress.

Last January in the Preston thrashing Cash did start, but he was alongside Kieran Dowell, Barrie McKay and Apostolos Vellios; none of whom still ply their trade at the City Ground.

It wasn’t just the result that day which was so alarming but the level of the performance. Michael Mancienne, in particular, played as though he had never stepped foot on a pitch before, never mind kicked a ball!

Vastly improved performance levels

Some people will refuse to carried away with Forest’s recent good form and that is absolutely fine.

Likewise, for those that were in attendance under the lights back in January, they should be forgiven for feeling a sense of joy when they see the current Forest outfit take on the same opposition.

For some supporters that performance nearly 12 months ago will represent their lowest ebb watching Forest. If this season is anything to go by so far, there is a genuine feeling that under Karanka those type of performances can finally be consigned to the history books.

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