Nottingham Forest's poor start to the 2020-21 season continued as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Cardiff City.
Kieffer Moore's first-half brace was enough to see all three points go back down to South Wales and despite plenty of second-half pressure from The Reds, they were unable to break down a stubborn rearguard action from the visitors.
Sabri Lamouchi made three changes to his starting line-up for the first home game of the Sky Bet Championship season as Carl Jenkinson, Yuri Ribeiro and Sammy Ameobi were bought in to replace Jordan Gabriel, Tyler Blackett and Nuno Da Costa respectively.
The Bluebirds drew first blood in the lunchtime sunshine as Moore converted the game's opening chance with a towering header passed a stranded Brice Samba who didn't stand a chance after the Wales international had risen unmarked to meet Marlon Pack's corner in the third minute.
Forest struggled to retain possession in the early stages of the match with their first chance coming on the 15-minute mark, when Luke Freeman put together a combination of smartly-executed stepovers on the right-hand side to beat Joe Bennett on the inside and whip in a delightful in-swinging cross to the charging Lewis Grabban at the back post who sent his shot blazing over Smithies' crossbar from just three yards out.
Cardiff maintained a high press throughout the first half and controlled much of the game and Lamouchi made his first substitution 10 minutes before the break when the injured Joe Lolley was replaced by home debutant Lyle Taylor.
Carl Jenkinson was caught well out of position after a well-worked combination saw Junior Hoilett slide Sheyi Ojo into the penalty area but his low effort was turned around the post by Samba's strong right hand.
Cardiff did however double their lead just moments later when the ball was turned home by Moore from close range after Forest failed to clear their lines and the Welsh striker was able to act quicker than The Reds' defence to prod the ball home.
Forest started the second half in much brighter fashion with the first opportunity falling to Ryan Yates. The midfielder failed to capitalise on Jenkinson's inch-perfect cross as he saw his close-range header pushed comfortably over the crossbar by Smithies.
The Reds continued to enjoy a spell of dominance with Ameobi cutting in on the right wing and unleashing a well-struck effort from distance which forced Smithies into action for the second time in as many minutes.
Luke Freeman provided Forest with a much-needed creative license throughout the second half and remained the most likely to change the outcome of the match. He threaded a difficult-to-control ball through to Grabban who managed to get on to the end of it but Smithies made himself big to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Forest looked galvanised in their efforts and continued to apply pressure to the Cardiff defence throughout the second half for little reward as a well-worked ball into the penalty area by Ameobi couldn't find the head of Taylor who had slipped clear of his marker.
In the closing stages, substitute Alex Mighten looked lively as he fired a ferocious effort across the Cardiff goalmouth which was spilled by Smithies, however, there were no red shirts in sight as the ball was cleared away. Seconds later, Mighten found himself in the midst of the action once again but he could only send his effort wide of the near post from close range.
The final chance of the game fell to Freeman who sent his free-kick comfortably over the crossbar as an encouraging second half display was not enough to overturn the lacklustre first-half performance.
Forest: Samba; Jenkinson (Mighten 80;), Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribeiro; Colback, Yates, Lolley (Taylor 36'), Freeman, Ameobi; Grabban (c) (Guerrero 73')
Subs not used: Smith, Dawson, Darikwa, Johnson
Cardiff: Smithies; Bennett (Bamba 82'), Nelson, Morrison (c), Osei-Tutu; Bacuna, Pack, Ralls, Ojo (Vaulks 73'), Hoilett (Tomlin 77'); Moore
Subs not used: Day, Glatzel, Paterson, Whyte
Goals: Moore, 3', 40'