His first two goals came within the opening 37 minutes, giving Nottingham Forest a start from which they never looked back and providing early evidence that Campbell and Dean Saunders may provide the effective forward partnership Frank Clark's side lacked last season.
Saunders, at 32, is no chicken and pounds 1.6m no small price to pay for a player of his age, but perhaps the Turkish sunshine has done him good. The Welshman, brought back from Galatasaray, looked sharp in thought as well as movement and the combination with Campbell - a leaner, hungrier Campbell than last season's version - undid the home side twice to give Forest their first-half platform.
The new partnership - Bryan Roy was missing through injury - earned its first success in the 13th minute, with Coventry seemingly distracted by an opportunity wasted by Noel Whelan at the other end. Saunders flicked a long ball into the path of Campbell, who had the elasticity to beat the goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic in a contest of stretching limbs, poking the ball into the net from 10 yards. The striker was hurt in scoring but resumed after treatment.
Coventry, for whom Kevin Richardson and his new midfield partner, Gary McAllister, had begun purposefully, now seemed to lose their way and their tempers, the referee Alan Wilkie fielding complaints from both sides of the touchline when Steve Stone's challenge left David Burrows prone. The defender spent six minutes off the field.
Unruffled, Forest seized control, composed a series of fluid moves and Campbell had three more unsuccessful attempts, the third hooked off the line by Liam Daish before finding the target again in fine style.
Again Saunders, already showing an awareness of his partner's movements, supplied the telling first-time pass but Campbell, running into the inside- right's channel, deserved credit for an excellent finish, whipped across goal out of Ogrizovic's reach and into the far corner.
Forest's re-shaped defence, with Colin Cooper at right-back and the Croat Nikola Jerkan in the centre, had a solid look to it, but the appreciation of their efforts was merely supplementary, as far as the Nottingham supporters were concerned, to the joy at Campbell's performance as he completed his hat-trick two minutes into the second half. This time Campbell did it all himself, pouncing on Paul Williams's attempt to clear, then losing Daish and Richardson with a jink and a shuffle before driving low past Ogrizovic.
Coventry took off Whelan and Michael O'Neill, their midfield signing from Hibernian, bringing on Eoin Jess and pushing the youngster Andrew Ducros into attack. They looked better, McAllister twice forcing saves from Mark Crossley, but the task was now too great.Reuse content