Villa's five-match unbeaten run came to a halt as they crashed out of the Emirates FA Cup in an emphatic defeat by Manchester City.
A hat-trick by Kelechi Iheanacho saw Manuel Pellegrini's men comfortably through to the fifth round, and the Nigerian striker also set up Raheem Sterling for the visitors' fourth goal.
It was an afternoon to forget for Rémi Garde's side, although it might have been different if Carles Gil hadn't been denied by a brilliant Willy Caballero save when the score was 2-0.
Villa could hardly have made a worse start, falling behind with less than four minutes on the clock.
Fabian Delph's corner from the left was flicked on by Bacary Sagna, and Fernando's far-post header was clawed away by Brad Guzan - only for Iheanacho to drive home the rebound from close range before Villa defenders could react.
Iheanacho then set up Jesus Navas for a low angled drive which was held by Guzan but as the home side began to gain a foothold in the game, Leandro Bacuna headed not far over from Ashley Westwood's fine cross from the left.
That was followed by two Scott Sinclair drives, both blocked before they could do any damage, following some determined work by Idrissa Gana and then Jordan Ayew.
City responded with a blistering Iheanacho drive which left Micah Richards badly winded, and there was worse to follow.
In the 22nd minute Bacuna was adjudged to have pushed Sterling as they contested a cross from the right.
There was a delay while home players contested the decision before Iheanacho stepped up and stroked the penalty to Guzan's right as the keeper dived the other way - and suddenly Garde's men had a mountain to climb.
It could have been worse, too, Guzan making a fine save from Fernandinho's six-yard shot, and it was a couple of minutes before the interval that Caballero was seriously tested for the first time, City's keeper diving to push away Gana's deflected shot.
Villa made a substitution at the start of the second period, Ashley Westwood being replaced by Jores Okore, who moved into the centre of defence with skipper Richards moving to right-back and Bacuna advancing into the middle ground.
Once again, however, it was City who looked the more dangerous and on 55 minutes Guzan kept out a low Sterling shot after the former Liverpool player arrived at full speed to meet Fernandinho's cross from the right.
The Villa keeper was again tested when he tipped away Fernandinho's powerful 25-yard shot after the City midfielder had latched on to a wayward clearance by Gana.
In the 68th minute, though, the home side were almost back in it.
Ayew was brought down by Nicolas Otamendi just outside the area, and Gil's superbly struck free-kick was heading inside the near post until Caballero managed to push it out.
The home side were now pushing forward with more purpose but their positive approach proved to be their downfall.
On 74 minutes Iheanacho was released through the middle by Gana's misplaced back-pass and he calmly fired low past the advancing Guzan to complete his hat-trick.
Two minutes later it became even more painful.
Fernandinho's shot was pushed out by Guzan but Iheanacho sent an overhead kick across the face of goal for Sterling to claim a simple tap-in.
VILLA: Guzan; Bacuna, Richards, Clark, Cissokho; Gana, Westwood (Okore HT); Veretou, Gil (Grealish 80), Sinclair (Agbonlahor 65), Ayew. Unused subs: Bunn, Lescott, Hutton, Lyden.
MAN CITY: Caballero; Zabaleta, Sagna, Otamendi (Humphreys 88), Clichy (Tasende 81); Fernando, Delph; Navas, Fernandinho (Celina 78), Sterling; Iheanacho. Unused subs: Hart, Aguero, Silva, Barker.