Villa Ladies were edged by Manchester City's array of internationals in a closely-fought pre-season friendly.
Despite the defeat, it proved to be a useful workout for Ron Mellor's side as they step up preparations for their Women's Super League debut.
City have been extremely active in the transfer market this year with full internationals Steph Houghton, Toni Duggan, Jill Scot and Izzy Christiansen among their new recruits.
The claret and blues found themselves a goal down after just three minutes after some poor play in midfield allowed Krystle Johnston to get into a shooting position and fire high into the net.
The visitors began to grow into the game but they were dealt a further before half-time when the lively Duggan capitalised on another defensive lapse to slot past goalkeeper Caitlin Leach.
Head coach Joe Hunt said: "It was a great experience for our girls to play against the new-look Man City team.
"They are now full of senior international players who on their day can destroy any team.
"I think in the first half we were too respectful to them and never got going.
"In the second half we were a lot better. We got back to doing the basics well.
"Abbeyleigh Stringer came on and was sensational in the midfield. It was good to watch an England u19 international play against a senior international in Jill Scott.
"Abbey has all the ability in the world and will be a big player for us this season.
"The team had a better tempo which made it harder for Man City to play.
"We know we've got things to work on but that's what pre season is all about."
Villa face another Super League 1 outfit, Chelsea this weekend.
VILLA: Leach, Vaughan, Walker, McCue, Petrovic, Richards, Mayling, Robinson, Davies, Cusack, Merrick. Subs: Moran, Jones, Stringer, Fergusson.