Aston Villa 1 West Ham United 2
This latest home defeat only adds credence to the theory that Villa Park's reputation as a fortress is beginning to crumble.
However, when you examine the facts, this season's record of three home victories is only slightly below-par with eight fixtures in B6 remaining.
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During five top-half finishes in the last six seasons, Aston Villa have only won more than half of their home fixtures on one occasion.
Incongruously, they racked up 11 victories in 2002-03, during Graham Taylor's illfated second spell at the club, when they flirted with relegation until the penultimate game of the season secured their status.
With eight wins on three other occasions and nine during David O'Leary's first campaign at the helm, there is still ample opportunity for the current incumbents to restore some sense of optimism for supporters becoming increasingly disenchanted with below-par home performances.
This insipid showing against an energetic, powerful West Ham side was light years behind the vibrant Villa performance on offer against Arsenal that so enthused supporters on the final day of 2005.
With champions-elect Chelsea next in town, it is likely to get worse before it gets better for O'Leary's side.
Nevertheless, Newcastle United, Portsmouth, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City, Manchester City and Sunderland all have to visit Villa Park before the end of May and every member of the playing staff should expect to garner a nap hand of victories, at the very least.
The thought of anything else is unpalatable and anything less could leave Villa looking nervously over their shoulders when they should be contemplating a top-half finish.
A victory over West Ham, which looked a distinct possibility at half-time, would have propelled them into the top ten and extended their unbeaten run to six games.
However, such is the logjam in mid-table that a dreadful second-half performance left them sixth from bottom, albeit eight points clear of the relegation zone.
The 'R' word hasn't been mentioned at all this season and rightly so, as Villa have always looked to have too much class to become embroiled in a dog-fight.
But the warning signs are clear when O'Leary's team are off colour and they were simply swatted aside by West Ham.
Villa out-muscled Arsenal two weeks previously, as their high-octane approach exposed the Gunners' fragility in midfield. Yet the boot was on the other foot as Nigel Reo-Coker and Hayden Mull-ins bulldozed their way past any Villa resistance while Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora's bullish approach clearly unsettled Villa's defence.
While Lee Hendrie staked his claim for a regular first-team starting spot with a rare headed goal and tidy performance on the flank, the hosts missed the strength of Eirik Bakke.
The on-loan Leeds United midfielder will never win awards for style or creativity but he has been an integral part of Villa's recent revival and he was sorely missed after limping off with a hamstring injury after 12 minutes.
With Gareth Barry suspended, it left Villa looking susceptible to set-pieces and so it proved after the interval when West Ham cashed in on their superiority.
It looked like plain sailing in the first half when two of O'Leary's out-of-favour play-ers combined to slice the visitors open.
Jlloyd Samuel, whose confidence levels are lower than Jodie Marsh's cleavage, linked up well with James Milner and his near-post cross was headed home by the unlikely source of Hendrie.
That should have been the catalyst for a period of Villa domination but they cruised to half-time without ever really shaking off the lethargy that had hampered their efforts.
West Ham were abject prior to the break, but all those anoraks among us knew that a 1 - 0 lead against the Hammers is a perilous scoreline.
They have recovered from that scoreline to collect at least a point on more occasions than any other Premiership side this season and they proved to be the comeback kings once again, as they swamped Villa for a 20-minute spell after the interval.
A Paul Konchesky free-kick was met by an unmarked Zamora and he planted a firm header past Thomas Sorensen from eight yards.
Despite West Ham's dominance, it was another set-piece that proved Villa's undoing and led to Mark Delaney conceding a penalty.
Shaun Newton's corner was met by Danny Gabbidon and his header found Mullins standing all alone in the penalty area.
Delaney charged out of the pack to try to block the shot but did so with the aid of his hand and referee Phil Dowd confirmed his fears by pointing to the penalty spot.
Harewood sent Sorensen the wrong way and apart from headers from Hendrie and Gavin McCann, Villa rarely threatened to loosen the visitors' stranglehold on proceedings.
It was a bad day at the office for O'Leary and with fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea on the horizon, the chasing pack have the chance to close the gap. Nevertheless, as long as Villa's confidence isn't under-mined, then a top-ten finish, courtesy of resurgent home form, is still a realistic option. ..SUPL: