Bamford’s goals were an important factor in carrying the Rams into the play-off final last season but he was singled out for boos from the start and was the target for mocking guffaws in the 62nd minute when a ball bounced wide of goal off his shin from point blank range.
Two minutes later and it was Bamford’s turn to laugh, however, as a typically sharp piece of finishing kept Boro level on points with the Championship leaders.
Boro looked the more purposeful early on but after 14 minutes Derby created a clear chance with a cross that Jamie Ward only just failed to touch at full stretch in the goalmouth.
Ward insisted that his shirt had been pulled by Ben Gibson but his claims were ignored and the visitors hit straight back with Lee Tomlin setting up a shooting chance for Albert Adomah.
Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant saved well and then did even better to keep out a second shot from Grant Leadbitter before raging at his defence for being exposed so easily.
Another spell of Middlesbrough pressure ended with Tom Ince racing onto a through ball to claim possession inside the box but full-back George Friend did brilliantly to rob him as he shaped to shoot from 12 yards.
Again Boro swept forward and when Grant was forced to dash from his penalty area to intervene, his clearance only reached Jelle Vossen, whose spectacular lob from almost 40 yards was denied when the ball bounced back to the keeper off a post.
A cagey game flared up angrily three minutes after the interval when Leadbitter came off worst in a full-blooded challenge with Derby’s 19-year-old midfielder Jamie Hanson right under the nose of referee Andy D’Urso.
The official allowed play to continue but Middlesbrough players swarmed menacingly around the Derby youngster and the incident ended with bookings for two of the players involved in the resulting scuffle, Vossen and Rams’ full-back Cyrus Christie.
Bamford’s every touch was being greeted with jeers from Derby fans but the marksman silenced them in the 64th minute.
The home defence was again pulled out of shape by a smart pass from Tomlin and Bamford reacted instantly to steer a narrow angled shot past Grant.
Derby were stung to produce their most aggressive football of the game but with strikers Chris Martin and Darren Bent still on the injury list, they could find no way through the Championship’s meanest defence and were lucky when Bamford missed a great chance in stoppage-time.