By Rob Bishop from Villa Park
Villa safely negotiated their second round Capital One Cup-tie as they recorded their first competitive win under Paul Lambert.
Fabian Delph opened the scoring by converting a 38th-minute cross from debut boy Enda Stevens and although Villa had previously found the going tough, they were well on top after that.
Chris Herd doubled the advantage on 65 minutes, with skipper Darren Bent completing a comprehensive victory nine minutes from the end.
There was also an encouraging debut for teenager Graham Burke, who looked perfectly comfortable after going on as a 76th minute substitute for Herd.
Yet Villa didn't have things all their own way early on, and after a subdued opening 10 minutes it was the visitors who produced the first real threat, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro having a shot charged down in the penalty area following hesitancy in the home defence.
Barry Bannan provided a response three minutes later, superbly bringing the ball under control before hitting a powerful 25-yard left-foot volley which wasn't far off target.
Nathan Baker had the ball in the net from close range on 19 minutes, only for the effort to be disallowed when a linesman spotted an infringement in the goalmouth, and Bannan was within a whisker of opening the scoring when his free-kick from outside the area only just cleared the bar.
Brad Guzan then saved comfortably from James Wallace's low shot before Villa had the ball in the net for a second time when Stephen Ireland diverted the ball over keeper Owain Fon Williams following Bannan's through ball.
Even as the Irish midfielder made contact, though, the linesman had his flag raised for a clear offside decision.
But after Ireland had set up Bent for a shot which came back off the keeper's legs, Villa finally went ahead on 38 minutes - and this time they were grateful to the assistant who had twice denied them.
Stevens worked his way in from the left to deliver a deep cross which Delph nudged goalwards at the far post.
Although Fon Williams managed to scoop the ball away, the linesman indicated that it had crossed the line.
The goal had the effect of settling Villa into a more fluent outfit, and a purposeful 52nd move involving Herd, Lichaj and Ireland ended with Bannan sending another well-struck shot not far wide.
Bannan wasn't merely impressive in a creative sense, though. The young Scot also helped out in defence on more than once occasion, and bravely threw himself in the path of Liam Palmer's fierce 55th-minute drive.
But Villa were increasingly in control,Andreas Weimann going close three times with one shot which was saved, another which deflected for a corner and a header which was just too high from Lichaj's centre.
Those near misses proved to be the prelude to the second goal, Ireland opening up the visitors' defence with a strong run through the left channel before cutting the ball back for Herd to sidefoot home from eight yards.
Ireland then forced Fon Williams into an excellent save, the keeper pushing away a well-placed shot at full stretch.
The outcome was now inevitable, though, and Burke tested Fon Williams with a 30-yarder within seconds of going on for his debut.
That would have been a fairytale start, but Burke was happy enough to watch another sub, Brett Holman, set up Villa's third with a cut-back from the right for Bent to drive firmly into the roof of the net.
Villa: Guzan; Lichaj, Lowton, Baker, Stevens (Holman, 67); Herd (Burke, 76), Ireland, Bannan, Delph; Bent, Weimann (N'Zogbia, 70). Unused subs: Given, Delfouneso, Johnson, Williams.
Tranmere: Fon Williams; Holmes, Taylor (Kay, 65), Gibson, Bakayogo;Thompson (Bell-Baggie, 68), Palmer, Wallace, Robinson (Harrison, 76); Akpa Akpro, Cassidy. Unused subs: Mooney, Harrison, Kirby, Stockton, Power, Kay, Bell-Baggie.