Yorke, Villa's leading scorer last year, limped off in the 14th minute, having pulled a hamstring. Given that Savo Milosevic is still not fit, this was a setback Villa could have done without, but in the event they made light of it after substitute Julian Joachim had put them ahead in the 19th minute.
Derby had quite enough possession in midfield to have made some meaningful reply, but with Dean Sturridge injured, they were unable to muster any kind of threat up front. The concession of the penalty, which Tommy Johnson converted after being pushed by Jacob Laursen, meant that Villa could concentrate on containment.
Joachim, in fact, ought to have made the winning margin much more emphatic. Pace and athleticism allowed him to give his side their early breakthrough, enabling him to reach the ball first when Johnson helped on a goal kick and then to lift the ball into the goal as goalkeeper Russell Hoult came out to challenge. Six minutes later, he allowed the goalkeeper a second chance when Ian Taylor's pass set him up splendidly, and midway through the second half, he let himself down again with unsure close control after being sent clear by Sasa Curcic.
Although Johnson hit the crossbar, Derby could bemoan their luck to an extent, having themselves lost a defender, Gary Rowett, just before Villa's opening goal. Ron Willems and Aljosa Asanovic took forward positions at the start but both seemed inclined to drift back. Exuding class, Asanovic did his best work some distance from goal, although he was responsible for a long-range effort fumbled away by Villa keeper Michael Oakes.