By Dan Harrison
Barry Bannan scored a sensational hat-trick as Villa avenged last season's national play-off defeat by storming to victory over Manchester United.
The midfielder struck gold with two spectacular first-half efforts, either side of a well-taken goal from skipper Ciaran Clark.
And the 20-year-old converted a stoppage time penalty to claim the match ball and rubber-stamp a well-deserved win for Gordon Cowans' side at Moss Lane, Altrincham.
On a night when all eyes were on Manchester United's high-profile summer signing Bebe, the Portuguese sensation was upstaged by Villa's Scottish twinkle toes.
Just five minutes were on the clock when Bannan curled a perfectly weighted free-kick into the top corner after James Collins Jr was fouled on the edge of the penalty area.
Bannan was the creator for Villa's second on 38 minutes. His delivery to the back post was met by Clark and centre-back displayed the touch, control and finish of a striker to thump his left-foot shot into the roof of the net.
But there was still time for another moment of first-half brilliance from Scotland under-21 midfielder Bannan.
Two minutes before the break, he collected Moustapha Salifou's pinpoint cross-field pass, controlled on the edge of the box and deftly chipped United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to cap a dream first period for the visitors.
Although United had plenty of possession Villa's defensive quartet managed to restrict them, with Ravel Morrison's shot which cannoned off the foot of the post being the closest Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team came.
Soon after the restart, the post came to the away side's rescue again when Scott Wooton connected from a tight angle.
Villa continued to restrict the Red Devils, although they did manage to pull a goal back when substitute Nick Ajose arrived late at the back post to finish from Corry Evans' corner 12 minutes from time.
But the night belonged to Bannan, who was intent on getting his hat-trick.
He forced Johnstone into a spectacular save in the closing stages before sliding in Nathan Delfouneso, who was also foiled by the United keeper.
The fourth goal - Bannan's third - came in the second minute of stoppage time from a Villa counter-attack.
Clark motored forward from his own penalty area and looked up to find Delfouneso in space.
The striker was felled in the box, leaving Bannan to step up and slot low past Johnstone from the penalty spot.
MAN UTD: Sam Johnstone, Scott Wootton, Ritchie De Laet, Corry Evans, Reece Brown, Oliver Gill, Gabriel Obertan, Ravel Morrison, William Keane, Magnus Eikrem, Bebe. Subs: Marnick Vermijl, Conor Devlin, Robert Brady (for William Keane, HT), Nick Ajose (for Ravel Morrison 74), John Cofie (for Magnus Eikrem 81).
VILLA: Elliot Parish; Eric Lichaj, Derrick Williams, Ciaran Clark, Shane Lowry; Jonathan Hogg, Moustapha Salifou, Isaiah Osbourne, Barry Bannan; James Collins, Nathan Delfouneso. Subs: Durrell Berry, Andy Marshall, Arsenio Halfhuid, Daniel Johnson, Daniel Devine.