Olof Mellberg admitted his battle with Emile Heskey was crucial to Villa's first-ever Premiership success against Birmingham City.
Villa's captain and Liam Ridgewell had to withstand a second- half onslaught as David O'Leary's men held on to the slender lead given to them by Kevin Phillips' first-half goal.
Heskey held the upper hand last season, but Mellberg and his young defensive partner worked overtime to contain the England international and grew in stature as the game progressed.
The Swedish international kept his own counsel prior to this game as comments before previous encounters have come back to haunt him and he confessed that it gave him immense satisfaction to finally lay to rest the Birmingham bogey.
"It was a fantastic occasion and I am pleased for the players, supporters and the club as a whole," said a visibly delighted Mellberg.
"We needed that for this season and for what has happened in the past.
"It has eaten away at us, even though we have finished ahead of Birmingham for the last two seasons, as losing against them in the derbies has saved their season a little bit.
"We didn't want to give them that satisfaction again and I think we had the edge from the beginning and looked stronger.
"They didn't look that strong and seemed a little bit nervous. They haven't performed that well at home so far this season and we took advantage of that. There was a real passion about us today, as there has been in the past, but we have conceded some strange goals and that has killed us off before."
Mellberg also revealed he knew exactly what to expect in this fixture and was as well prepared as he has ever been to face Birmingham.
Villa have conceded eight goals from set pieces so far this season and David O'Leary had had his troops working overtime on the training ground to iron out the problem.
"We have been looking at our defending from set pieces, as we knew we needed to be stronger against a side like Birmingham, who are physical and have a bit of height," added Mellberg.
"That is their whole game, as they play a lot of long balls to Heskey and he will always win his fair share of headers, but we kept him fairly quiet today.
"Every time we have played Birmingham under their manager, they have played a lot of long balls.
"They look for something to happen on the second ball or the flick-on and, if you can manage to sort that out and deal with their set-pieces, you are unlikely to concede.
"It is good as a defender to keep clean sheets as you are involved a lot in games like this.
"They play a lot of long balls and you have to work hard, so it feels really good to win these games.
"We haven't done that well this season and haven't collected enough points, so hopefully we can turn this round now and get into the top half of the table."