ASTON VILLA 2 NEWCASTLE 0
Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett (Carroll 63), Willems, Almirón (Atsu 79), Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Gayle 72)
Subs: Schär, Krafth, Darlow, M Longstaff
"Brucie, what's the score? Brucie! Brucie! What's the score?" Steve Bruce has had more unsavoury nights on the touchline at Villa Park - a cabbage was thrown at him by a Aston Villa fan before his final game in charge 13 months ago - but this was an unhappy return to his old stomping ground.
The Newcastle United head coach would have loved to come back and haunt his former club but, instead, he was taunted by the home fans as Villa raced into a 2-0 lead with 36 minutes on the clock.
Newcastle went into this game on the back of back-to-back wins - "the training ground was bouncing" he said - but Bruce's side struggled to match the intensity of Dean Smith's terrirers.
The Magpies know how important a fast start is against a newly-promoted outfit after a poor performance at Norwich back in August, but they never really got going at Villa Park.
The Villa fans welcomed their side onto the field with a hearty rendition of 'Hi Ho Aston Villa!' and you would not have been able to tell this was a side who had lost their previous three league games. Admittedly, two of those losses came against the two best teams in the country, Liverpool and Man City.
Roared on by the vociferous home support, Villa were energetic; Newcastle, in contrast, were passive in that costly first half - which will have taken Bruce by surprise.
The 58-year-old, after all, made just one enforced change for the trip to the Second City, following his side's victories against West Ham and Bournemouth, with Paul Dummett coming into the starting line-up in place of the injured Jamaal Lascelles.
Fabian Schar, who had been sidelined for a month with a knee injury, was fit enough to return to the match day squad but Bruce kept faith with the same back three - Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez - that finished the game against the Cherries.
In Lascelles' absence, Jonjo Shelvey stepped up as stand-in skipper and led his side out at Villa Park, with Bruce and his staff making their way down the touchline a few minutes later.
There had been a few boos for Bruce an hour-and-a-half previously as he got off the team coach but there was barely a groan as he took his seat, with one Villa fan even stretching out his hand to greet him.
That was as friendly as it got, though, and Villa's tails were up under the lights; Dean Smith's side quickly found joy down Newcastle's right flank, with Matt Targett and Jack Grealish causing problems.
On 13 minutes, Targett flashed a cross across the goal but Anwar El Ghazi was unable to get on the end of it as Villa began to dominate possession and Newcastle sat off in a low block.
Newcastle had their first effort on goal a quarter of an hour later, when Jonjo Shelvey's free-kick was easily claimed by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, and it was Villa who looked more dangerous going forward.
Douglas Luiz forced a fine stop from Martin Dubravka with a 25-yard effort before the half-hour mark and just a couple of minutes later, Villa broke the deadlock.
John McGinn, who Bruce rates as his best ever signing, looked to set Grealish free down the left with a lofted ball over the top and Yedlin, panicked, gave away a needless foul when he barged Grealish on the edge of the area.
From the resulting free-kick, a smart training ground routine, Conor Hourihane fired Villa in front and the home side smelt blood.
Just four minutes later, Villa doubled their lead and, again, Newcastle were undone by a set-piece. The Magpies were all too static as El Ghazi met Hourihane's free-kick to send Villa fans wild.
Sixteen days previously, Newcastle had come from a goal down to win against Bournemouth and the black-and-whites have certainly shown plenty of character since that 5-0 humiliation at Leicester back in September.
Bruce believed his side 'surrendered' and 'felt sorry for themselves' at the King Power Stadium that afternoon and while they did not crumble in the same fashion this time around, equally, the Magpies could not find a way back into the game.
Federico Fernandez forced Heaton into a save when he met Shelvey's corner with a thumping header just before half-time.
Then, after the break, Allan Saint-Maximin cut inside on the edge of the area in trademark style but his curled effort was kept out by Heaton.
Newcastle did not seriously test Heaton thereafter and it was Villa who looked the likelier to score. Dubravka kept Eril Kansa Ngoyo out from a Villa corner on 53 minutes and the Slovakia international, somehow, denied Wesley late on from point-blank range.
Bruce shifted to a 4-2-4 - Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle and Christian Atsu all came on in the second half - but the Magpies could not find a way back into the game.
Next up, the visit of the champions, Man City, as a season-defining run of fixtures continues.