Beating Wolves a catalyst for renewed hope? The small matter of it being a derby match aside, I’d suggest it’s hardly the kind of victory to create major headlines and turn heads – after all, Villa did win the same match last season and Wolves were below us in the Premier League table even before kick-off; a Villa victory was not a surprise (although far from a given).
And yet, there was something about the game and how it played out that stirred the emotions more than perhaps any other league encounter so far this season. Perhaps it was down to the team changes, some enforced, some not. Villa's in-form player, Stephen Ireland, ruled out with a hamstring injury, Charles N'Zogbia also unfit to feature, and Gabriel Agbonlahor struggling with illness: he wouldn't last the match.
As manager Alex McLeish conceded later, with that trio all but unavailable, picking the team became an easy task. McLeish did, however, take decisive against in arresting Stephen Warnock's poor recent form, leaving him out and switching Ciaran Clark, so settled in central midfield of late, over to left-back. It was a reasonable decision - Clark played there several times last season.
On the flipside, first Villa starts in the Premier League for Robbie Keane, and a long-awaited one for Gary Gardner, the midfielder whose talent has accelerated the demand for match opportunities.
Gardner almost scored – actually, he should have scored – with his first touch, sending a header narrowly wide in the opening minute and Villa took the lead shortly afterwards with a penalty, won and converted by Darren Bent.
It was a bright start, but the old defensive frailties existed. Michael Kightly turned Clark all too easily to equalise, and then Villa conceded their requisite set-piece goal, Richard Dunne and James Collins competing for the same header (and neither winning the ball), leaving David Edwards unmarked on the edge of the six yard box to nod home. McLeish must dread his team conceding corners.
With Wolves squandering another couple of presentable opportunities, half-time was a relief. Villa came out for the second half with a change - Agbonlahor withdrawn, Warnock replacing Clark at left-back and the latter moving into midfield.
If it seemed like a stroke of tactical genius from McLeish, it wasn't; Agbonlahor was too ill to continue so it was forced upon the manager. But it worked. Warnock got tighter to Kightly and snuffed out the threat from wide, and Villa got back into the game.
There's no doubt that Karl Henry's silly red card - the criticism of Marc Albrighton for his part in the dismissal, effectively copping a backheel in the chest from point-blank range, seemed just a tad misplaced, to me - changed the course of the game, not to mention the injury to Emmanuel Frimpong. The Wolves midfield was depleted, and Villa took advantage.
Keane's two goals were superb, not least because they demonstrated what a touch of class can bring you - two instinctive strikes, almost out of nowhere. Winning a game late on, with a goal of quality, gives everyone a lift and - despite the fact that Villa rode their luck at times during the encounter - the feeling of triumph at the final whistle was emphasised.
This win could do a lot for Villa, and for McLeish, a manager still struggling to win over doubting Villa fans (and not a handful, we're talking fans in their thousands). In particular, Keane's performance will have pleased him and gained McLeish some credit - a six-week loan deal for a player in his 30s is always open to question - but the Irishman delivered exactly what the manager was hoping for, and if he does nothing else before returning to LA at the end of February, he'd still qualify as a worthwhile signing.
As it stands, Villa were able to turn a worrying situation at Molineux around and pull a crucial three points out of the bag. A win works wonders - so much so, that Sunday's trip to Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round suddenly doesn't seem quite so daunting.
Is that positive thinking I detect? Just a little.