Mark Robins hailed his team from front to back after a welcome derby victory hoisted Town up to 13th in the Championship.
The manager was delighted by the contribution of returning strikers James Vaughan and Martin Paterson, as well as keeper Alex Smithies.
Robins rang the changes after the 3-1 home defeat by Birmingham before the international break, a display he described as an “aberration”.
Vaughan was back, and installed as interim skipper in the injury-enforced absence of Peter Clarke, after a three-match suspension.
Saturday’s scorers Paterson and Clayton were recalled after missing three matches in the wake of their infamous training ground bust-up.
Tommy Smith was handed a league debut in a three-man central defensive unit which also featured Joel Lynch, while midfielder Jonathan Hogg was fit again after a knee problem.
“James Vaughan was outstanding. He missed a good chance, probably down to a little bite of rustiness, but his worth ethic, the way he tracks back and pushes into the corners, was superb,” said Robins, right.
“Martin Paterson picked up his first goal for the club, and it was long overdue because he’s a good player.
“For whatever reasons, it’s taken him time to settle down, but hopefully he will now push on.
“I thought the pair of them made a big impression, while at the back, Alex Smithies’ concentration was excellent.
“He didn’t have a massive amount to do, but made some very important saves nonetheless.
“We were very disappointed to concede the goal (to Connor Wickham). It was a stupid free-kick to give away. We wanted a clean sheet and we were almost there.
“But the win was deserved, and it has finally got us off 17 points, where we have been for too long and into the twenties. Now let’s kick on.”
l Flo Bojaj scored twice as Town’s Under 18s won 4-2 at Barnsley.