Before long, Forest will be taken over by one of the 14 consortiums or individuals who have told the club how they intend taking it out of debt and into successful prosperity. Their answer, of course, is long- term investment. For the moment, the question is whether whoever does take over will be inheriting a Premiership or First Division club.
Frank Clark admitted last night he had no idea when he would get his hands on some money but feared it would be too late to save himself. "The answer should be in our own performances before the takeover, but I want us to win some games before that happens or someone else will be spending the money."
The last time Forest had a run of 11 games without a win, in 1992-93, they were relegated, so obviously the need was pressing and at first they recognised it when, in the opening 12 minutes, they had the Villa defence scurrying breathlessly.
Jason Lee spurned two of the chances through baffling negligence, but before that Des Lyttle had already narrowly missed sinking the ball into the far corner of goal with his hopeful lob. Lee then met an inviting cross from Ian Woan. Michael Oakes blocked him, but hardly had a moment to admire his work before Lee was coming at him again from beyond the penalty area. This time Oakes moved out bravely but rashly, leaving his goal almost empty. Lee slapped tamely at the ball and by then Carl Tiler had got back to clear from almost on the goal-line.
For 20 minutes, Villa rode their good fortune while Forest regretted their errors even more severely as, from a free-kick just outside their penalty area, the tireless Andy Townsend gently tapped the ball to Dwight Yorke whose shot broke the wall and struck Ugo Ehiogu on the shoulder, leaving the ball loose for Tiler to score off the fingertips of Mark Crossley.
Compensation should have come quickly for Forest but when Dean Saunders' friendly centre arrived in the penalty area, Lyttle lost sight of the ball. The cost of the mistake was not something Forest could afford.
The profusion of incidents belied the poverty of the football. Tommy Johnson set up plenty of openings for Villa while Saunders continued to seek out any number for Forest. When Johnson lifted the ball across the goalmouth, Yorke attempted an exaggerated scissor-kick that cut no ice. Saunders responded, breaking a way through defenders who were appealing for offside but Lee, at the far post, headed unconvincingly and Fernando Nelson cleared off the line.
Yorke soon had some more scissor-kicking practice. After 65 minutes, Townsend's corner saw Tiler loop a header towards Ehiogu, who beat Crossley easily, heading on for Yorke to achieve an ambitious overhead strike. this time it was spectacularly accurate and brought Villa's second goal.
In a forlorn attempt to revive their spirits, Forest called up Bryan Roy. He took an instant dislike to some committed tackling by Ian Taylor whose determination and sound positional sense in midfield should have been an example to Forest, whose second-half commitment was far from convincing.