Chesterfield manager Paul Cook credited ex-Port Vale striker Marc Richards for providing the catalyst to a 2-0 victory over Micky Adams' men which lifted his rapidly improving team into the top half of the table.
Richards, who was Vale's top scorer for four successive seasons, played a major part in goals for Jay O'Shea and Tendayi Darikwa as Cook's side strode to a fourth straight win in impressive fashion.
Vale remain in second place, but on the day they were a clear second-best as Chesterfield debutant O'Shea and Mark Randall ran the game behind lone striker Richards.
Cook said: "Rico played very well. He's a strong boy who mixes his game up well and he was the catalyst to a very good team performance.
"He holds the ball well which enables us to get up the pitch and that was very important. You can talk all day about systems and playing one forward, but we are a very attack-minded side and we get players forward.
"We respected Vale like we do all our opponents, but we didn't fear them. They are a strong team who are going well, but we came here to take them on toe to toe.
"We had really effective players throughout the team and I was delighted with all of them."
Prolific Vale marksman Tom Pope forced two decent saves from Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal, but a fightback failed to materialise and Adams accepted his team were found wanting on the day.
"Credit to Chesterfield because they looked as though they wanted it more than us," he said. "We didn't create anywhere near enough. We had opportunities to put the ball into the box in the first-half, but we kept having an extra touch and that let us down.
"Our front two were starved of decent service. The pitch cutting up badly didn't help, but it was the same for both sides and Chesterfield looked better than us."