Peter Swan: Forest feared Hull City's free-flowing football
STEVE Bruce must have walked away from the City Ground a very happy man – as this match indicated how far his side has come since the start of the season.
The Tigers may have had a bit of fortune to claim their 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest, as the home side certainly appeared to have a case for handball over Paul McShane's winner. But overall, City were fully deserving of the three points, and it was clear Forest had been worried about facing the Tigers.
Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll admitted in midweek he was concerned about the way City play the game, the way they control sides through their five man midfield, and how they dominate possession in most games.
And when it came to Saturday's clash, Forest had clearly spent more time focusing on how to try and stop the Tigers, than on their own game.
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Forest are a quality footballing side, and the fact that they were so concerned about facing City is a huge compliment to Bruce's side and the way they are playing.
In all honesty, it was something which came back to shoot Forest in the foot, as they never really looked comfortable against the Tigers.
That is probably because it isn't as simple as matching City for numbers in the middle.
All of the five in midfield are clever players, and they don't stick rigidly to their positions.
Captain Robert Koren is able to drift around in a free role, whilst both wide men, Ahmed Elmohamady and Robbie Brady, are happy coming inside to look for the ball.
Then, both Corry Evans and Stephen Quinn are busy in the centre, and buzzing around, making it very difficult to pick them up.
I really can't see any side being able to focus purely on trying to stop the Tigers this season, as the players are too good, and they are 100 per cent comfortable with the system.
That all comes back to Bruce, who quickly identified the system early in the season as being one which best suited his side.
It is one he has not used for years as a manager, but having assessed his players, he has clearly found a system they like to play.
This is a big change to what we have seen at City in recent times, where players have been forced to play formations they have not been comfortable with, and managers have put square pegs in round holes.
Bruce has found this system, brought in players like Elmohamady and Brady who can slip straight into it, and then let the players go out and express themselves.
They have done just that, and while Bruce takes credit for his approach, the players must be applauded for the quality of football they've produced.
Much of their play can't be coached, it is all natural ability and reading of the game.
City are obviously playing with confidence at the moment, and although they dropped points at home to Burnley and Crystal Palace, they were fully confident at Forest.
It was great to see Paul McShane on the scoresheet, especially as I backed up what I'd said in midweek and put my money on him to find the net again, as he had done at Liverpool in the Premier League days. That lad never lets me down.
He is a prime example of a player benefiting from Bruce's leadership.
Out in the cold for the past two years, he has been given his chance by Bruce and taken it with both hands.
That clean slate for all players, and rewarding those who play well, has clearly developed a great team spirit in the camp.