They tell you in these parts that Ashley Ward is Barnsley's most consistent player, but you sensed he was a man on a personal mission yesterday, accomplishing his objective by inflicting on his former club the decisive blow.
Ward's winning goal, midway through the second half, was just reward for player and team, his ceaseless endeavour and intelligent application embodying the spirit and purpose of Barnsley.
Derby County, for all their vaunted attacking flair and options, had none of Ward's unpretentious, uncomplicated and ultimately effective leadership. Paulo Wanchope is beginning to look like a luxury Jim Smith can ill-afford, especially when the Costa Rican does not appear willing to accept substitutions are part of the game. They also might have had Dean Sturridge and Dean Yates sent off as madness threatened to engulf them towards the end.
Their most promising spell, early in the second half, produced nothing and after Ward struck they were in danger of ignominious disintegration.
Danny Wilson, Barnsley's manager, said: "I'd have paid for four points from the two holiday games, but we've got them.
"My only concern was that the ref might have had a riot on his hands at the end."
His opposite number, Smith, admitted Sturridge was fortunate to stay on and said of Wanchope: "He's a silly boy. But he's got to understand you need to bring on fresh legs."
Sturridge gave David Watson an early opportunity to re-establish himself in Barnsley's goal, the keeper tipping over the attempted chip. For much of the first half, however, Watson was under-employed.
Mart Poom, at the other end, was grateful to see a succession of efforts smack the frame of his goal or scream into the stand. Neil Redfern demonstrated his shooting powers, striking the bar from a 25-yard free kick and again from 20 yards.
Derby ought to have taken the lead after 51 minutes. Stefano Eranio floated a cross from the right, with three players seemingly positioned to convert. Ron Willems passed the buck to Lee Carlsley, who failed to apply the finish.
Ward's winner came after 67 minutes. Clint Marcelle combined with Barbard on the left, the latter crossing for Ward to score at the near post.
The afternoon might have been gloomier still for Sturridge, shown only yellow after kicking Adie Moses in the back. Yates was one of three more booked and he almost talked himself into a red card in stoppage time.
Goal: Ward (67) 1-0.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Watson; Eaden, De Zeeuw, Moses, Barnard; Marcelle (M Bullock, 71), Redfern, Sheridan, Tinkler; Hristov (Liddell, 61), Ward. Substitutes not used: Appleby, Bosancic, Martstedt.
Derby County (3-5-2): Poom; Yates, Rowett, Laursen (Carbon, 66); Eranio, Carsley, Willems, D Powell (Burton, 75), C Powell; Sturridge, Wanchope (Baiano, 75). Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Solis.
Referee: G Barber (Surrey).
Bookings: Barnsley: Moses. Derby: Sturridge, Yates, Iranio, Carlsley.
Man of the match: Ward.
Attendance: 18,686.Reuse content