Managerless Rovers and Forest could not muster a winner as their encounter ended goalless at The City Ground.
A share of the spoils was enough to move Rovers, who have temporarily installed Eric Black at the helm following Steve Kean's resignation last week, back into the play-off spots, but the opportunity to move into the top two was one which eluded them.
It was Forest who will feel they did more to earn a victory, though, with Paul Robinson saving brilliantly from Lewis McGugan on the stroke of half-time. However, the hosts looked toothless up front in the absence of suspended duo Dexter Blackstock and Simon Cox. Billy Sharp failed to seize the initiative, firing Forest's best chance wide.
Not even the arrival of Jermaine Jenas from the hosts' bench in the second period could provide Sean O'Driscoll's men with a spark, as they were unable to secure three points for the fifth game in succession.
Barring a couple of simple saves, both Robinson and opposite number Lee Camp were virtual spectators until the former was called into action prior to the half-time whistle.
McGugan's quick thinking to fire in a shot had Robinson scrambling across his goal to push the ball wide. From the resulting corner, Sharp had a shot blocked before Scott Dann headed away Henri Lansbury's goal-bound strike as the hosts finished the half on a high.
O'Driscoll's side carried that momentum into the second period as a rasping effort from Andy Reid flew just over the crossbar. Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes could not get into the game and his frustration only grew on the hour-mark when Chris Cohen clipped his heels inside the area, with referee Mick Russell ignoring Rovers' protests.
Lansbury warmed Robinson's hands again, jinking inside before unleashing a left-footed effort which the former England stopper palmed back out. Gael Givet, who did not reappear for the second half in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Charlton, made a vital intervention from Reid's cross with two Forest players lurking.
Not to be outdone by his fellow full-back, Bradley Orr got himself in the right place to avert more danger as Forest turned up the heat. Reid was continuing to orchestrate play and he picked out Sharp inside the box, but he was unable to break his Forest duck as the on-loan Southampton striker fired wide.
O'Driscoll had suggested at the weekend that fellow loanee Jenas, who started his career at the City Ground, was not ready to be thrown into the hustle and bustle of the Championship, but he came off the bench to huge cheers with 18 minutes left. However, the Tottenham midfielder's arrival failed to galvanise his team-mates, although Simon Gillett's deflected effort went narrowly wide late on.
Paul Coutts denied Middlesbrough the chance to climb to eighth in the Championship table as his late equaliser earned Derby a 2-2 draw and their first point on Teesside in 12 years.
Theo Robinson saw his early penalty cancelled out by Lukas Jutkiewicz in the 19th minute, the Polish striker teeing up what would have been a seventh straight defeat for the Rams at the Riverside with an unchallenged header in the final stages.
But Boro failed to contain their opponents at the death, Coutts keeping Tony Mowbray's men tethered to mid-table until the weekend at least.
Jutkiewicz should have made Boro's early pressure count, though, instead scooping Grant Leadbitter's free-kick over the crossbar before Derby took the lead in the 16th minute. A tricky Rams counter-attack saw Craig Bryson wade into the area only to tumble under the attentions of Andre Bikey, leaving Robinson to confidently tuck home the spot-kick.
But Boro were completely undeterred and levelled three minutes later. Richard Keogh conceded a free-kick well within Leadbitter's preferred range, the former Sunderland man seeing his low drive fumbled by Frank Fielding, before raising a smile as Jutkiewicz bundled home the rebound.
The Polish striker nearly made it two after slicing Justin Hoyte's pullback wide but Derby had weathered the storm. Rams boss Nigel Clough cut a frustrated figure as repeated raids were handled expertly by a well-drilled Boro defence. Soon, Bikey's long-range missile amused and enthralled in equal measure but it remained all-square at the break.
The sting had disappeared somewhat when play resumed, Jutkiewicz showing no bite when fed by Nicky Bailey before Coutts wasted a cross at the other end. Bailey and Jutkiewicz soon jumped for the same delivery when one man would have sufficed and the ball bobbled away from danger.
A period of crisp passing followed - with no end product - but Robinson had the slippy turf to blame as he miscued over the bar on the hour mark. Conor Sammon replaced the ineffective Nathan Tyson with Mowbray bringing on Merouane Zemmama and Emmanuel Ledesma for Kevin Thomson and Josh McEachran.
They soon proved handy, with Coutts denying Ledesma's rasping drive and Zemmama running out of luck following a mazy run as Boro sought a break in front of goal. That burst of good fortune arrived 10 minutes from time through a familiar source, Jutkiewicz turning in time to notice Zemmama's forward chip and twisting his neck to guide the ball into the top corner.
Boro were up to eighth place as it stood, but in all the excitement, they let their guard slip at a critical moment, Coutts lashing home after a goalmouth scramble with just three minutes remaining. And it would have been Derby's first victory at on Teesside since 2000 had Robinson tucked away the easiest of chances before the final whistle.