Even so, Villa's goals were typical of their somewhat haphazard bombardment of the Derby penalty area. Although under constant pressure, Derby's defence were largely tested for durability rather than credibility.
Dwight Yorke brought welcome relief. Ian Taylor, the engine of a midfield which bubbled but rarely fizzed, rose to direct a corner back into the area and Stan Collymore's presence resulted in a loose ball which Yorke volleyed through Derby goalkeeper Mart Poom's legs.
Minutes later, the combined threat of Collymore and Yorke distracted the defence as a low cross from Fernando Nelson fell to an unattended Joachim to squeeze home.
With the visitors chasing the game, their more studious but laboured possession was exposed as Villa pressed with a more effective 4-4-2 formation. Yorke, with a thrusting run and scissor-kick, tested Poom to the limit on two more occasions.
The Aston Villa manager, Brian Little, facing a tough trip to Liverpool tomorrow in his quest to catch the leading Premiership group, admits the corner has yet to be fully turned. "I was pleased we got behind the full- backs with Julian Joachim's pace, which is something we didn't do before the substitution. But we had a decent tempo in the second half."
Ugo Ehiogu had gifted Derby the opening goal, misjudging a cushioned header to goalkeeper Mark Bosnich. Francesco Baiano was quick to pounce, poking through the flailing goalkeeper's legs and scrambling from the ensuing tangle of bodies to sweep the ball home for his first Derby goal. Paul Trollope almost equalised in the dying seconds as a static Villa defence allowed a marginally misdirected close-range header.
The Derby manager, Jim Smith, conceded his side had failed to turn possession into threat. "We have got to put more pressure on and that's where we didn't pass the ball enough. If you are defending your box as long as we were, something is going to happen. You can not hang on for 45 minutes."