Having reached last season’s final, Villa are threatening another deep run in the competition after booking a fourth round home tie with Stoke next week.
Last night’s 3-0 third round victory at Bristol City was achieved despite the head coach making 11 changes to the team which beat Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday.
One man who did feature was £19million signing Bertrand Traore, the Burkina Faso international marking his debut with a sumptuous volleyed goal which summed up the swagger with which Villa’s second string set about their task.
Traore struck shortly after Anwar El Ghazi had put the visitors into an early lead, with record signing Ollie Watkins then coming off the bench to net his second goal for the club.
Were it not for the reflexes of Robins goalkeeper Max O’Leary, Watkins might have bagged a hat-trick during his 20-minute cameo.
O’Leary also denied Keinan Davis, Jacob Ramsey and El Ghazi - the latter on several occasions - during the 90 minutes.
In addition to the unusual sight of Ahmed Elmohamady at centre-back, Villa’s team also featured goalkeeper Jed Steer and full-back Frederic Guilbert for the first time this season.
The hosts made eight changes themselves, Robins boss Dean Holden handing a first start to Albion legend Chris Brunt in midfield.
Football League regulations allow clubs to pipe in fake crowd noise during matches and the hosts are among those to have taken up the invitation.
It was laughably awful - akin to the sound of a malfunctioning toilet flush - yet it did not appear to distract Villa, who showed intent from the first whistle.
It took less than 11 minutes for El Ghazi to break the deadlock, though the visitors would have lead even sooner had it not been for O’Leary, who denied both the winger and Davis at close range in quick succession, after excellent link-up play between Traore and Guilbert.
But the keeper had no chance with the opener, which came when Davis, having been played in, first held off the challenge of Tommy Rowe before beating the defender on the byline.
The striker had the option of shooting from a tight angle but with O’Leary guarding the near post, instead picked out El Ghazi who from six yards out pulled a right-footed shot inside the far stick.
It was a well-worked goal but paled in comparison to Traore’s three minutes later. Running on to Ramsey’s lofted pass on the right-hand side of the box, the winger sent a first-time, side-footed finish over O’Leary and into the far corner, before celebrating with a nonchalance befitting such a special strike.
The hosts just could not find a foothold in the game, though Antoine Semenyo did his best with a long-range drive which Steer was forced to parry. Famara Diedhiou then squandered a great chance to pull a goal back when he headed wide.
But it was Villa who continued to look the most dangerous and they were only denied a third when Ramsey, racing to meet El Ghazi’s cross with O’Leary in no-man’s land, appeared to be yanked back by Rowe. Referee James Linington, whose willingness to let the game flow often aided the entertainment, should probably have made an exception for that one.
El Ghazi really should have at least put the keeper to work when Traore played him through early in the second period but hit his finish over the bar.
Soon after he went close again, bringing down Henri Lansbury’s well placed crossfield ball before hitting a right-footed shot which O’Leary saved with his legs.
With the hosts starting to apply some pressure, Smith introduced Trezeguet and Watkins and within three minutes they combined for the goal which out the tie beyond any remaining doubt.
Watkins, who was involved earlier in the move, finished it by tapping home Trezeguet’s cross at the far post.
The £28million man was then left frustrated when O’Leary showed sharp reflexes to deny him, while Ramsey was denied the goal his performance deserved when he hit his finish too close to the shot-stopper.
Bristol City (3-5-2): O’Leary, Vyner, Moore, Rowe, Sessegnon, Brunt (Bakinson 66), Nagy, Palmer (Massengo 84), Eliasson, Semenyo, Diedhiou (Martin 84) Subs not used: Mawson, Paterson, Wells, Bentley (gk).
Villa (4-3-3): Steer, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Hause, Taylor, Lansbury (Hourihane 78), Nakamba, Ramsey, Traore (Trezeguet 70), Davis (Watkins 70), El Ghazi Subs not used: Mings, Targett, McGinn, Kalinic (gk).