With five players suspended, another injured and three others still away on national service, Leeds fielded two 20-year-olds and a first-year trainee, Alan Maybury, who is just 17. But no Tomas Brolin.
Even in circumstances as dire as these, the pounds 4.5m forward was omitted by Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson, who felt his side would be better equipped to counter the Villa threat without Brolin. It was a decision that will raise question marks about the Swedish international's usefulness to a team in rapid decline.
Villa, for their part, left out Ugo Ehiogu and Tommy Johnson, perhaps mindful of avoiding disciplinary problems of their own at a critical point in their season. Both players are one caution away from suspension and, with the two leg Coca-Cola Cup semi-final against Arsenal coming up, such matters have to be considered.
In the event, they were scarcely missed as Dwight Yorke swept Villa to a two-goal lead in 23 minutes, directing a header past Mark Beeney from a cross by Gary Charles and then, with Leeds temporarily reduced to 10 men because of an injury to John Pemberton, drilling the ball between the goalkeeper and his near post after an attempted clearance by Carlton Palmer rebounded into his path.
Yorke, Villa's leading marksman, has 14 for the season but a more remarkable statistic is that, on the 45 occasions that he has scored in a Villa shirt, only once has he finished on the losing side.
By coincidence, that was against Leeds. But, with no Tony Yeboah or Phil Masinga to stretch the meanest defence in the Premiership, there was negligible prospect of a repeat. Rod Wallace was twice unforgivably wasteful in the first-half while Brian Deane scarcely contributed.
Leeds looked marginally brighter after half time but once Villa had further stretched their lead the fight seemed to drain from them. The only surprise was that Yorke, in such bubbling form of late, did not go on to complete a hat-trick. Instead, he set up Alan Wright, the full-back, to drive home Villa's third.Reuse content