There will be no brief relief after Villa came up short.
By Nick Mashiter
As Nicklas Helenius had his shorts ripped off, the claret and blues had their pants pulled down by Tottenham.
And with Manchester City looming on Saturday, last night’s chastening experience must be a learning one.
Villa will wonder why Jan Vertonghen did not concede a penalty for his comical second-half challenge on Helenius.
But they will have to front up to ensure they do not suffer a repeat defeat against in-form City.
It was a game of the haves and the have-nots, stressed by Jermain Defoe’s double and strikes from Paulinho and Nacer Chadli.
Villa made seven changes, most enforced, and handed 18-year-old Callum Robinson a debut as a late substitute, while Tottenham switched eight men and kept £26m Roberto Soldado in reserve.
And that is why defeat must still be taken with a large dollop of realism, despite the frustration and hurt.
They were outclassed by Tottenham, Villa’s willingness little match for slick Spurs’ movement and skill.
Depleted and shorn of Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke, among others, the gulf which has grown between the sides in the last three years was evident.
They used to battle for fourth place in the Premier League and the riches of the Champions League.
But in 2010 Tottenham made it and prospered while Villa, who finished six points behind, went into a tailspin.
Defeat, underlined Villa’s squad weakness as their new signings continue to adapt to the English game
The news Benteke is out for at least a month with his hip injury will further darken the mood but, with the international break, the Belgian could miss just three games.
But they can ill afford to be without Benteke for long as Libor Kozak, Jordan Bowery and Helenius made minimal impact.
Helenius should have had a penalty when the falling Vertonghen tried to swap strips but the trio’s biggest impact was when Bowery gifted Spurs their third goal.
Marc Albrighton made his first start since January and was a bright spot for Villa, for his willingness if nothing else.
The winger has suffered an injury nightmare over the last nine months and could still resurrect his Villa career.
Aleksandar Tonev is yet to find his feet while Leandro Bacuna, Luna and Helenius still have much to prove.
Only Tonev and Bacuna retained their places from Saturday’s 1-0 win at Norwich along with Ron Vlaar and Karim El Ahmadi.
Tottenham handed a debut to Romania captain Vlad Chiriches while record £30m signing Erik Lamela started.
Villa struggled against the visitors’ movement and patient build-up and Defoe shot wide on 14 minutes.
Albrighton almost made a dream return when he linked with Kozak to force Brad Friedel into a low stop.
jed Steer then kept Defoe out before nearly being embarrassed when the ball flew wide after the England striker charged down his clearance.
But in first-half stoppage time Villa has no answer to a delicious Tottenham opener as Defoe’s brilliant movement took him behind the defence to head in Lewis Holtby’s chip. The lead was deserved and Villa responded by replacing Kozak and El Ahmadi with Helenius and Bowery.
Helenius’ penalty shout was ignored as Vertonghen got personal 60 seconds after the restart and three minutes later it was 2-0 when Paulinho stabbed in Holtby’s corner.
That was game over and, Friedel saving Tonev’s strike aside, Villa failed to rally.
It was left to Chadli to beat Steer at his near post and make it 3-0 with four minutes left when Bowery gifted Defoe possession.
And Defoe completed the scoring in injury time when he burst clean through to round Steer and tap in.
After Helenius’ unfortunate strip, Villa will hope they are not left so exposed again.