If there was one thing that everyone from David McNally downwards would have wanted to achieve by one, particular Saturday lunchtime in the back end of October, it would have been to have one win under their belt by the time they bumped into Paul Lambert again.
That, of course, now looks an unlikely prospect.
With the best will in the world, nick even two points out of the away trip to Chelsea and the home clash with Arsenal in between that visit to Villa Park and it will be a minor miracle.
Everything would suggest that Norwich will still be lurking in the bottom three by the time they arrive for the reunion gig.
And if Chelsea and Arsenal are handed the kind of ‘Help yourself…’ offerings that were on the table this weekend, then City could yet head to Brum on their knees confidence-wise.
It is not a pretty scenario. Alas, on the back of Saturday’s defensive efforts, it is the likely scenario as the Premier League fixture computer toys with Chris Hughton’s best intentions. He needed three points out of either QPR (h) or West Ham (h); that was always where the nerves would be settled.
That neither game delivered a victory is – in part – down to the fact that, for now, he is not proving a lucky manager.
He needed the breaks; as they all do. Or rather those that don’t have the real riches at their disposal.
Losing Messrs Pilkington and Bassong of late has been a right kick in the proverbials; who knows about Harry Kane? Had Steve Morison’s first-half header fallen to the on-loan Spurs teenager and not Simeon Jackson on Saturday would the world look a different place? Who is the better back stick finisher – Pilkington or Andrew Surman? Would the former have needed Robert Snodgrass to deflect his shot over the bar…
And so it can continue. Not that everything can be laid at the door of Miss Fortune. Michael Turner’s two, full games at centre-half have thus far yielded ten goals conceded. The lad has yet to settle would be a fair summary.
Bassong looked just the part.
But there is an interesting thought that keeps crossing my mind when all eyes now turn to the Lambert Reunion match.
Villa are actually ‘enjoying’ their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign. Five points from their opening six games and it needed an 80th minute leveller from Darren Bent to rescue a derby point at The Hawthorns this weekend.
The same Bent that – for the first time in his Villa career – started a game on the bench; the same Bent that has already lost the captain’s armband under Lambert’s rule.
Villa travel to Tottenham, the Sunday after Norwich face Chelsea. They are at Fulham on the day that the Canaries play host to Arsenal.
In fairness to Lambert, you never say never as far as the Scot is concerned, but picking up a second win of the season before they play host to Norwich looks a tough ask.
Lose both and as Hughton heads to Birmingham under the Norfolk microscope, he can at least take comfort from the fact that the bigger pressure to deliver will be on his host, not him.
Equally, for those that find concern in Grant Holt’s slow start to the season – the ‘marque’ player that Hughton has to manage the best out of – Lambert’s handling of Bent is equally instructive. By many an account, the body language between the two wasn’t brilliant at The Hawthorns; Bent having to be held back from over-celebrating in the manager’s direction.
The flip side would say that Lambert fired Villa’s highest-paid player into life by the sleight of being dropped to the bench; that the Scot has lost little of his man-management tricks en route up the A14.
And I don’t sense too much ill-will between Holt and Hughton; he still, after all, has the armband and was handed the chance to fill his boots against Doncaster Rovers in mid-week only for nothing to fall for him fortune-wise.
Yeh, its not been the start that all would have liked; the new man has not had too much by way of luck go his way.
But he is far from alone in feeling the heat – a heat that he, unlike maybe Lambert, will have felt and dealt with before.