But on to more immediate matters, and Villa's return to Premier League action. International fixtures mean it's been two weeks since Villa's last game - that end-to-end, could-have-either-way victory over Norwich (incidentally attended, for the first time this season, by Lerner). Actually, for Villa, it will be a little over a fortnight as we don't play until Monday night, at White Hart Lane.
I have a deep unease for Monday night matches, dating back to the fixture that saw an 'exciting, new-look' Villa side, with debutants Wilfred Bouma and Milan Baros, utterly and woefully hammered by West Ham several seasons and managers ago.
David O'Leary's team were totally taken apart that night by a player called Marlon Harewood, who helped himself to possibly the easiest hat-trick of all time (Villa later signed Harewood, of course, but by then his goal touch had all but deserted him; probably because he never again had the fortune of playing against a Villa side managed by O'Leary).
So to Monday, then; that Villa are against arguably the league's most in-form side - Spurs have seven league wins from their last eight games - does nothing to ease my unease. They have dismantled more than one side this season, and with goal threats coming from all over the field, Villa's defence - looking increasingly susceptible with every passing game - will have a busy night.
When contemplating Spurs, I find it impossible not to draw parallels with their position, and Villa's. We're 8th, they're 5th, but the margin between the two teams is more than three places in the Premier League. Spurs are clearly focused on driving forward towards another shot at the Champions League; I maintain that it's not clear what Villa's strategy from here on in actually is. Certainly not the same direction as Tottenham.
I recall an interview with Tottenham's Benoit Assou-Ekotto a couple of weeks ago.
"If the players don't stay, we could end up like Aston Villa," he said. "Not long ago, they were maybe two or three players away from becoming a top team. They didn't buy them and they didn't keep the ones who were already there and since that time, they have taken a few steps back."
While it's not nice to be held up as the shining example of what not to do in football, Assou-Ekotto was right. We need not go over old ground again and again and lament who Villa have sold in the last two or three years - suffice to say, a hell of a lot of quality has walked out of the door, and we've suffered as a result. We haven't re-invested proportionally, either, and the net result is we're not now dining at the same table as Spurs.
Two seasons ago, Spurs beat Villa to fourth place. They finished six points ahead of us, at the end of a campaign which saw both clubs, plus Man City, battling it out in a kind of mini-league to nail that last Champions League qualifier spot. City beat us (a result which could have gone the other way had John Carew not hit the bar with the score at 1-1; the ball rebounding and setting in motion a City counter-attack which culminated in the crucial goal on the stroke of half-time), Spurs beat City.
Not a lot to choose between the three teams.
In the close season, Villa sold James Milner. Spurs signed Rafael Van der Vaart, the kind of icing-on-the-cake player Villa had been pining for; Martin O'Neill had hinted, a year previously, of approaches for Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.
And therein lies the difference. Villa have lost big players, partially replaced them (or not at all). Spurs have sold big players too, in recent times - Berbatov, Carrick, Keane, Defoe, Crouch - but properly replaced them (sometimes directly: Keane, Defoe and Crouch all returning, with varying degrees of success) and reinvested funds to redevelop the team.
Unlike Villa, they haven't been afraid to reject seriously big offers for their star players - Luka Modric, subject of a ridiculously large bid from Chelsea, is a shining example. Spurs also made their stance clear on Gareth Bale, to ward off predators from La Liga and Serie A: not for sale. It is this kind of signalled intent that convinces other players that there future lies at White Hart Lane. Despite no Champions League football this season, Van der Vaart hasn't agitated for a move away from the club. He's scored seven goals in ten games this season.
Spurs trade well too. Crouch, perhaps now having peaked, was moved on, and Emmanuel Adebayor brought in. Wilson Palacios, sold, like Crouch, to Stoke. Scott Parker signed. Upgrades in quality. Shrewd team building.
This strategy means Spurs are close to the team they were two seasons ago, in good shape for another crack at the top four. Villa are not. We have a longer rebuilding job on our hands, and a Monday night trip to White Hart Lane may show up one or two of the cracks we've been papering over recently.
Or it may show a Villa side gradually getting itself together. There's no doubting the midfield area has perked up since the dynamic Chris Herd was brought in alongside Stilian Petrov and, again, if Jermain Jenas is fit (he is a doubt) to play some part than Villa should be competitive. Spurs are undeniably strong in the midfield and forward areas but if they do have a weakness, I believe it's at the back, where they've been deprived of Michael Dawson through injury, and continue to rotate Ledley King, William Gallas and Vedrun Corluka.
I'd be perfectly happy to see Villa adopt a more defensive shape if it allows us to hit Spurs on the counter - N'Zogbia, Bent and Agbonlahor (if fit) have more enough to seriously trouble the hosts.