High-flying Forest Green took the lead in the 16th minute when Matty Taylor finished off a sweeping move down the City right and it was the striker who doubled the scores in the early stages of the second half when he headed home a corner at the near post.
Another corner led to the hosts' third with substitute Magno Vieira on hand to prod home past Paul Farman after Taylor was denied and in the end the Imps had their 'keeper to thank to keep the scores down, producing a number of impressive saves on what was a disappointing Friday evening.
With John Nutter absent due to a hamstring injury, Paul Robson returned at left-back for this televised Friday night Blue Square Bet Premier game against high-flying Forest Green Rovers at The New Lawn.
Further changes to the side that started the midweek home win over Nuneaton Town, meanwhile, saw Nicky Nicolau and Colin Larkin return at the expense of Jake Sheridan and Conner Robinson who dropped to the bench.
There was a distinct chill in the Gloucestershire air as the teams were led out on to the pitch by referee Nicholas Kinseley and once the pre-match formalities were done and dusted things got underway with City kicking off.
After a quiet opening things livened up in the third minute when a meaty challenge from David Morgan on Kieron Forbes earned the midfielder an early caution, and one which brought some understandable annoyance from City boss David Holdsworth on the touchline.
Although play was concentrated in the middle third, City were forced on the defensive in the 10th minute when a cross from the overlapping Chris Stokes led to a Rovers corner; Paul Farman commanded his area well though and punched clear when the flag-kick was played in.
City's response saw Nicky Nicolau have a shot deflect over and when he played the corner in, skipper Andrew Boyce saw his downward header cleared behind. Nicolau's second delivery was headed a foot over by the big centre-back.
It wasn't long, however, before the home side were on the attack again and following some patient build-up play in midfield, Rovers broke at pace and after Stokes fed the overlapping Yan Klukowski he laid the ball into the path of Matty Taylor who finished neatly past Farman for the opening goal in the 16th minute.
The Imps looked for a quick reply but home 'keeper Sam Russell easily claimed a Nicolau corner whilst at the other end Tom Miller was forced to clear following another swift attack down the Forest Green left.
City's next foray forward ended with Larkin slicing a shot wide from range whilst the next break in the 32nd minute saw Smith see his cross crash against a home defender only for his appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Kinseley.
At the other end Farman held a Taylor effort before Boyce was pulled up for a foul on the striker; the free-kick was headed behind by Fofana and when City broke Larkin showed his experience by taking the ball forward before being dumped to the deck for a free-kick to the Imps.
Smith then won a corner which was met by Miller only for Russell to claim but the game continued to be a midfield battle as the half wore on towards two added minutes.
HT: Forest Green 1 Imps 0
With no substitutions made during the break, Rovers restarted proceedings and it wasn't long before the home side pressed forward and when Ed Asafu-Adjaye cross whipped in a cross from the right, in nipped Taylor to plant a flicked header past Farman for his second of the game.
Before play restarted Magno Vieira replaced Al Bangura for the home side whilst a couple of minutes later Boyce picked up a booking for a foul in the middle third with referee Kinseley quick to blow his whistle despite the defender appearing to slide in and win the ball.
A Nicolau corner then came to nothing before Rovers left-back Stokes saw yellow on the hour mark for a late challenge on Smith. City then had Miller to thank as he stretched to deny Taylor a sight of goal. The resultant corner, however, saw Taylor head goalwards and after Farman blocked his header there to tap home was substitute Vieira to make it 3-0.
Shortly after the restart a triple City change saw Conner Robinson, Jake Sheridan and Jamie Taylor replace Colin Larkin, Nicky Nicolau and Adam Smith before Fofana tried his luck from range only for his effort to fly over the bar.
In the 70th minute Steve Brogan came on for Yan Klukowsi for the home side and three minutes later Rovers' striker Taylor spotted Farman off his line but the Imps' number one was quick to back-pedal and tipped the ball over.
The hosts remained on the offensive with Farman forced to tip a powerful Forbes effort behind and after the corner came in, Stokes had a shot blocked before Morgan hacked clear. Brogan was then denied by the legs of Farman as a fourth home goal beckoned.
The pressure continued with another corner coming Rovers' way as the game approached its last 10 minutes and after a swift counter-attack ended up with an offside decision in the Imps' favour Omar Koroma replaced Ben Wright for the men in green.
Drama ensued with five minutes remaining when Robson and Forbes clashed after the City man went in hard in a 50-50 challenge and once things calmed down with players from both sides exchanging pleasantries, referee Kinseley booked both players.
As the game approached its conclusion, Koroma had a shot deflect behind and Taylor fired wide as the home side continued to attack. Four added minutes was then indicated by the Fourth Official and these passed without further incident.
FT: Forest Green 3 Imps 0
City: Paul Farman, Dan Gray, Andrew Boyce, Tom Miller, Paul Robson, David Morgan, Mamadou Fofana, Adam Smith, Nicky Nicolau, Vadaine Oliver, Colin Larkin.
subs: Jamie Taylor (for Smith 65), Jake Sheridan (for Nicolau 65), Graham Hutchison, Conner Robinson (for Larkin 65), Jake Turner.
bookings: Morgan (3), Boyce (56), Robson (86)
Forest Green: Sam Russell, Chris Stokes, Al Bangura, Jamie Turley, Yan Klukowski, Kieron Forbes, Jamie Collins, Matt Taylor, Eddie Oshodi, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Ben Wright.
subs: Omar Koroma (for Wright 82), Reece Styche, Magno Vieira (for Bangura 51), James Norwood, Steve Brogan (for Klukowski 70).
goals: Taylor (16, 51), Vieira (63)
bookings: Stokes (60), Forbes (86)
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Assistants: Adrian Quelch & Stephen Finch
Fourth Official: Antony Coggins