Timing, they say, is everything, and with virtually the last kick of this demonstrably one-sided game, Stephen Kelly scored Tottenham's fifth goal to lift the north Londoners into the last Uefa Cup place.
That strike, from Sean Davis's extravagant overhead flick, was the final blow against an Aston Villa side that had long been reduced to a shambles in their worst defeat of the season.
However, they too still have designs on the Uefa Cup, which their manager, David O'Leary, highlighted. He also praised his team for their efforts this campaign, but rightly said: "The players let themselves down."
Now Spurs, whose goal difference is one better than their closest Uefa Cup rivals, Middlesbrough, can dream of Europe again. The two sides meet at the Riverside this Saturday.
Martin Jol, the Spurs manager, believes that the issue will not be settled until the last day of the season. But this result, he said: "May have got rid of Villa." Yet the Midlanders could have been two ahead within the first five minutes but were denied, in O'Leary's eyes, "a stonewall penalty", when Erik Edman closed in on Mark Delaney, with Steven Davis having already missed a presentable chance.
With the penalty not given, Paul Robinson launched a clearance downfield that Fredi Kanouté ran on to, and via goalkeeper and post, found the net. That showed the visitors' weakness in defence and they came unstuck again when they failed to clear a corner, Andy Reid struck the post and Ledley King tucked away the rebound.
With less than half an hour gone, Kanouté had his second. Another corner came in that Villa failed to deal with and although Robbie Keane was fouled, the referee played advantage and Kanouté finished well.
Having been denied one penalty, Villa were generously given one on the stroke of half-time, when Michael Dawson used his hands to protect his face from a fearsome Juan Pablo Angel shot. Gareth Barry made no mistake.
Both managers agreed Villa had a toehold on the game, but any dreams of a point vanished when Reid unleashed a 25-yard shot into the top corner for his first goal for the club before Kelly rounded off the rout.
Goals: Kanouté (6) 1-0; King (19) 2-0; Kanouté (27) 3-0; Barry pen (45) 3-1; Reid (67) 4-1; Kelly (90) 5-1.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson (Cerny, 64); Kelly, King, Dawson, Edman; Davies, Sean Davis, Carrick, Reid; Kanouté (Mido, 78), Keane (Defoe, 78). Substitutes not used: Bunjevcevic, Ziegler.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Postma; Delaney, Laursen, Ridgewell, Samuel; Solano, Steven Davis, Hitzlsperger (Hendrie, 59), Barry; Angel (Moore, 59), Vassell. Substitutes not used: Sorensen (gk), De la Cruz, Cole.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Co Durham). Booked: Tottenham Davis; Aston Villa Postma, Solano.
Man of the match: Reid.
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