Wolves had no answer to the movement and invention of Derby as Jeff Hendrick and Johnny Russell both scored twice after Ryan Shotton headed the opener to give Steve McClaren’s team their biggest win since March and send them to the top of the table.
It had been raining steadily throughout the morning and the conditions played a part in Derby’s opening goal in the 16th minute when a slip by Ethan Ebanks-Landell forced Matt Doherty to trip Simon Dawkins.
Omar Mascarell whipped in the free kick and although Carl Ikeme did well to get his left hand to Shotton’s header, the ball went in off the inside of the post.
Wolves caught Derby out with a corner played to the edge of the box for Bakary Sako who fired just over and the visitors wasted an even better chance in the 24th minute.
Sako was again involved, drifting past two white shirts before playing in Sam Ricketts who pulled the ball back for George Saville but he shot high and wide from 10 yards.
That miss looked even more costly four minutes later when Dawkins chested the ball into the path of Hendrick who made himself enough space to send a low shot fizzing into the bottom right corner from 20 yards.
Sako looked the most likely player to get Wolves back in the game but some of his team mates were wasteful in their passing and Derby all but sealed victory with a third goal in the 42nd minute.
A corner was headed back at the far post and although it was half cleared, Russell was allowed to run unchallenged into the area and fire low past Ikeme from 12 yards.
It was shocking defending from Wolves who were now looking at damage limitation in the second half although even that was beyond them against a Derby team intent on driving home their superiority.
An exchange of passes across the edge of the Wolves box ended with Dawkins seeing a shot deflected over but the visitors were opened up again in the 54th minute when Will Hughes’s clever ball inside allowed Hendrick to score with a measured finish from just inside the area.
Leon Clarke struck the foot of a post a minute later but Derby were now utterly rampant and they made it five on the hour when Craig Forsyth crossed from the left and Russell arrived at the back post to fire into the roof of the net.
Wolves kept going but inevitably it was Derby who nearly scored again in stoppage time when Cyrus Christie shot over after Ikeme could only parry a shot from substitute Paul Coutts.