First-half strikes from Player of the Season Bradley Johnson and England Under-21 winger Nathan Redmond this afternoon set up a titanic play-off semi-final showdown with neighbours Ipswich Town following a 4-2 win over visitors Fulham.
Graham Dorrans would add a third as the Canaries cruised home to finish the regular, 46-game season in third.
Johnson added City’s fourth, his second, and then Fulham’s second via an own goal in a near-comical, injury time flurry as his unerring ability to own the headlines on days like these continued to shine through.
The real dramas, however, lay elsewhere as Brentford’s 3-0 win over Wigan and, in particular, Derby’s 3-0 implosion at home to Reading left Mick McCarthy’s men in sixth after their own 3-2 defeat away at Blackburn.
Having already done the double over their East Anglian rivals this season and still to lose an away game under new boss Alex Neil, Norwich will head into the derby double-header as strong favourites.
However, this being Norwich and derbies being derbies few will take anything for granted as a season already rich in high drama now lifts itself to a whole new level with the opening leg at Portman Road booked in for next Saturday.
It is an occasion made for a fierce combatant of Neil’s ilk. In him Norfolk will place their trust – in itself an extraordinary compliment to a man few had ever heard of four, short months ago.
Now the 33-year-old has an opportunity to carve himself out a lasting place in derby folklore.
“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t end the season with a whimper,” said Neil afterwards, with little or no prospect of that given the way the footballing gods have directed events today.
Darren Bent missing a penalty for Derby to level the contest at 1-1 was just another one of those extraordinary twists to the Sky Bet Championship tale.
Before proceedings unfolded, there was time to salute City’s newly-crowned Player of the Season Johnson who deservedly took the vote ahead of Wes Hoolahan in second and Cameron Jerome in third. Quite why he got the 2014-15 gong would be underlined again before the first-half was out.
Jerome meanwhile was one of the more notable absentees as Neil took the opportunity to make three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Rotherham – the greatest interest being afforded to Elliott Bennett and his new role at right-back in the on-going absence of Steven Whittaker.
The knock-on effect was to keep skipper Russell Martin at the heart of the City defence alongside Sebastien Bassong – a pairing that underpinned Norwich’s rise to promotion contention under the new Neil regime.
The Scot will be loathe to split them again for the bigger battles to come; Bennett’s re-invention in a more defensive role could yet spare the manager that prospect and today’s clash with Fulham offered an ideal dress rehearsal.
Dorrans’ recent efforts were rewarded with a breather as Gary O’Neil returned to front-line duty. There was, of course, a further change up front where Hooper found himself starting for the suspended Lewis Grabban.
With the automatic promotion positions filled, the game opened in rather pedestrian fashion, Johnson offering the first real moment of note in the 18th minute with a shot that skipped just wide of an upright.
The greater interest actually lay elsewhere as the City faithful watched and waited to see who their play-off semi-final opponents might be; Brentford were the first-half favourites as Derby’s promotion dreams continued to implode.
Events brightened up considerably ten minutes before the interval as two goals in the space of almost as many minutes put Norwich in the driving seat for a third-place finish.
Johnson, inevitably grabbed the opener with his 14th goal of a magnificent individual season as Hooper teed him up neatly for the usual certain finish; Redmond doubling Norwich’s advantage with a neat cut inside and curling effort to follow.
That, you suspected, was job done.
It certainly was once substitute Dorrans reinforced his case for a full-time stay in Norfolk with City’s third strike eight minutes from the end of normal time; Redmond providing the assist for the Scottish international.
Matt Smith’s consolation goal a couple of minutes later was just that; nothing to change the course of events in Norfolk.
Rather it was now a case of who would stand between Norwich and Wembley as Ipswich went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down at Ewood Park and Brentford looked to build on their 1-0 lead in the second period.
Which they duly did to overtake Town; a third goal from Blackburn kept them heading south – for now facing Norwich in the final four. The last question of the season was whether a choking Derby could spoil Suffolk’s play-off party altogether.
The answer came in the 72nd minute via a second Reading goal. Michael Hector had done his bit. A third would follow before the end as the Rams’ lingering play-off challenge collapsed entirely.
Norwich would play Ipswich for the chance of a trip to Wembley and the prospect a first-time return to the Premier League.