Arsene Wenger had said in the build-up to the game that he believed October would be the moment of truth for his side as they looked to pick up maximum points from a series of winnable games.
But the Gunners' plans fell apart in East Anglia as Holt pounced on a Vito Mannone error to give Norwich the lead. Wenger's side struggled to create an opportunity let alone take it as the Canaries got the balance right between dogged defending and cutting counter-attacks.
Hughton made two changes to the team that had lost 4-1 at Chelsea last time out. Michael Turner had been an unused substitute in that game but replaced Leon Barnett in the starting line-up here. In midfield, Anthony Pilkington came in for Jonny Howson with the former Leeds man dropping to the bench.
Wenger made just one change to the team that had beaten West Ham before the international break - and that was an enforced one with Andre Santos coming in for the injured Kieran Gibbs. Theo Walcott was unavailable due to the injury he picked up against San Marino but another England international was in the squad with Jack Wilshere taking his place on the bench after over a year out.
Wes Hoolahan was the man tasked with supporting Holt in attack but such was the energy of the Canaries midfield it was not unusual for the big striker to have yellow shirts around him. Pilkington and Elliott Bennett worked hard in both directions as Norwich sought to get bodies behind the ball in defence and then spring to attack on the counter.
Arsenal were patient in their build-up but it did not appear to work to their advantage as Lukas Podolski is at his most effective with space to work in. Both the Germany international and his fellow forward Olivier Giroud struggled to wriggle free of their markers at the back and the usually creative Santi Cazorla failed to find them.
Hughton's initial substitutions were fairly positive with Robert Snodgrass replacing Pilkington before Steve Morison came on for the goalscorer Holt - both like-for-like swaps. It was only late on that the home boss really opted to focus on shutting out the opposition when he brought on Ryan Bennett for Hoolahan.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was the man Arsenal fans would have been hoping could swing the game in their favour. But the youngster was injured in his very first run and had to be withdrawn for Andrey Arshavin minutes later. Final substitute Serge Gnabry did provide some invention but to no avail. Wilshere was left on the bench with Wenger perhaps hoping to have given the midfielder a run-out with his team already well ahead.
Not the toughest game for Lee Probert to referee and he had few controversies to deal with. Perhaps he was a little harsh to book Hoolahan for putting the ball into the net following an offside but otherwise he was rarely the focus of discussion.
Alexander Tettey could have been forgiven for expecting to spend the whole game chasing the ball unsuccessfully against the Gunners pass-masters but it didn't prove to be the case. The Norway international broke up the play and was a dominant figure himself in the centre - even pushing forward to provide the spark for Holt's goal.
Mikel Arteta did all he could to prompt Arsenal from the middle of the park. He provided drive and energy but it was rarely matched by colleagues such as Aaron Ramsey and with Giroud unable to escape his markers it was a frustrating evening for those in red and white.
Norwich can take huge inspiration from this result as it shows they are capable of keeping clean sheets against the better sides at Carrow Road. Their home form will have to be good if they hope to survive but if they can keep up these energy levels then Hughton's men will have every chance of achieving their goals.
As for Arsenal, this was a worrying result given their lofty ambitions. Perhaps the international break had been anything but for some of their key players because too many key figures were in subdued mood and they caused their struggling opponents too few problems to justify even a point in this one.