Campbell's first two goals came within the opening 37 minutes, giving Forest a start from which they never looked back. The third equalled his tally for the whole of last season, marred by injuries and loss of form.
"It was important for Kevin to make a good start after last year, which was a big disappointment," the Forest manager, Frank Clark, admitted. Just as important to him, however, was the way in which Campbell's new partnership with Dean Saunders yielded immediate dividends.
There was evidence here that Campbell and Saunders could form the effective forward partnership Forest lacked last season. At 32, Saunders is no chicken and pounds 1.6m is no small price for a player of his vintage but the Welshman, returning from Galatasaray, looked sharp in thought as well as movement, and the combination with Campbell - a leaner, hungrier Campbell than last year's version - brought havoc to a defence condemned as "slap happy" by the Coventry manager, Ron Atkinson.
Their first success came after only 13 minutes when Saunders flicked a long ball into the path of Campbell, who had the elasticity to beat goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic in a contest of stretching limbs, poking the ball into the net close range.
Although Kevin Richardson and his new midfield partner, Gary McAllister, had begun purposefullly, Coventry seemed to lose their way. They were still complaining about a challenge by Steve Stone that left David Burrows needing stitches when Forest scored again.
Once more Saunders, showing an awareness of his partner's movement, supplied the telling first time pass but Campbell, running into the inside-right channel, deserves credit for an excellent finish.
Forest's reshaped defence, with Colin Cooper at right-back and the Croat, Nikola Jerkan, in the centre, had a solid look to it but was seldom tested, at least before Atkinson introduced Eoin Jess to midfield in the second half.
By then, however, Campbell had completed his hat-trick, pouncing on Paul Williams's attempt to clear, then losing Liam Daish and Richardson with a jink and a shuffle before driving low past Ogrizovic.Reuse content