There was flair on the pitch and flare off it. Unfortunately both came from Tottenham.
While Christian Benteke’s return almost provided the spark for Villa, Spurs’ 2-0 win extended their unbeaten run against the claret and blues to 11 games.
England darling Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado struck in each half as Villa huffed and puffed but ultimately had no answer to Tottenham for the second time in a month.
It was harder work for Spurs than their 4-0 League Cup cruise in September, but money talks and the visitors were worth their win.
But an unremarkable game was marred by a smoke bomb thrown from the away section in the Doug Ellis Stand.
It hit linesman David Bryan as Tottenham celebrated Townsend’s fortuitous opener to draw rapid condemnation from boss Andre Villas-Boas.
It was included in Phil Dowd’s match report and something which will be investigated by the FA and both clubs.
Bryan quickly recovered, something Villa failed to do as their three-game unbeaten Premier League run ended.
Benteke returned to a Villa Park roar after a month out to replace the ineffective Libor Kozak and almost sparked a comeback.
The Belgian missed a golden chance to level – underlining his ring-rustiness – just minutes before Soldado’s clincher.
But the lift he gave the team and a subdued Villa Park showed exactly why he is revered and idolised in these parts.
Villa are right to deny they are a one-man team but Benteke offers the inspiration few in the Premier League can.
It is something Kozak would have been aware of after an anonymous outing.
The £7m Czech is still adapting to the Premier League and to write him off would be ridiculous – Benteke only scored once in his first six games – but doubts remain if he is the man to ease the goalscoring burden.
Against Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches he struggled and, while he was not blessed with service, he must improve to ease any early fears.
Without Benteke Villa toiled after a bright opening. Boss Paul Lambert insisted they deserved more, but in reality they can have few complaints.
Once Townsend’s cross drifted in on 31 minutes there was a sense it was going to be Spurs’ day.
The visitors’ enjoyed 69 per cent of first-half possession as battle-hardened Villa refused to be rolled over again but there was still a gulf in class.
It was to be expected after Spurs’ summer outlay, but Villa at least proved lessons had been learned from their last meeting.
Gabby Agbonlahor shot over after a Dawson slip on three minutes as Villa made a bright start.
Ashley Westwood made his mark on Lewis Holtby and was booked after just five minutes – with referee Phil Dowd lenient towards the midfielder.
Spurs were not settled with Jan Vertonghen filling in at left-back and Hugo Lloris produced a fine low stop to keep out Westwood’s free-kick on 20 minutes. Tottenham struggled to find their cohesion, a credit to Villa’s work-rate.
Andi Weimann fired over on 25 minutes in an opening half of few clear chances – and Tottenham’s opener six minutes later had a slice of fortune about it. Townsend’s delivery from the right was decent and when Holtby and Soldado missed it the ball bounced into the far corner.
The England winger had previously been peripheral, confined to the right flank rather than being allowed to drift as he had done for the national team.
Villa were unlucky to be behind and Leandro Bacuna curled a free-kick over before Weimann shot wide three minutes before the break. It was a gritty battle and Guzan had the final word of the first half, turning Townsend’s 18-yard strike wide.
Townsend threatened again three minutes after the break, shooting over following good link-up play between the quiet Soldado and Holtby.
Spurs had quietly taken control of the game and only Guzan denied them a second on 50 minutes when he brilliantly turned Paulinho’s half-volley wide.
Ten minutes later Benteke replaced an anonymous Kozak as muted Villa searched for a response. It was almost immediate as the unmarked Benteke headed Bacuna’s cross over from seven yards.
But that buzz evaporated when they were ripped open by a lovely Spurs move on 69 minutes as Holtby found Paulinho who slipped in Soldado to make it 2-0 from 10 yards.
It silenced Villa and Paulinho wasted a free header and Townsend rifled over as Tottenham hunted more goals.
Aleksandar Tonev twice tested Lloris but there were few shoots of recovery as Villa’s response fizzled out.