John Terry came out victorious with Frank Lampard when Villa won a well-deserved victory.
John McGinn, Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane have arranged both the main event and the sideshow in Pride Park extensively.
Their late strikes delivered the first points on the road since Terry worked with Dean Smith – and they came at the expense of a good friend.
Tammy Abrahms rejoices after scoring as Aston Villa Derby conquers 3-0 at Pride Park
John Terry and Frank Lampard embrace before their teams each play in the championship
The former teammates of Chelsea and England, together for 13 years at Stamford Bridge, were separated here by three goals.
Derby boss Lampard saw his side blown away in the second half when Villa both played out and overloaded.
The margin was an even bigger surprise than the result after the impressive recent Derby run. It was their first loss in seven games.
Villa was hugely impressive, suggesting that they can still be the stronger promotion challengers.
Conor Hourihane runs away in delight after he has given a stunning free kick late in the match
John McGinn added the lead with another nice attack to give the Villans the control
It was the second governing event during Villa Boss Smith with Lampard – with different clubs.
His Brentford team lost 3-1 in Pride Park seven weeks ago when Derby came from behind to win. This was a sweet revenge for that.
It was Derby's first home loss since the 4-1 crashed in Lampard's introductory bout.
Villa had proved to be weak on their travels both before and after the appointment of Smith instead of Steve Bruce.
They came here while they lost their first two away games, as opposed to a record of 100% in Villa Park.
The season of Villa needs a definitive turning point where the top six is still temptingly close, even from the bottom half of the table.
The gap with high-flying Derby is now up to four points.
Villa exchanged a good first half after failing with a clear early chance. A bad release from the count of Scott Carson County saw that Albert Adomah defeated a free header for Jonathan Kodjia, who finished well.
It was again an Adomah cross that offered a new main opportunity. This time Abraham's attempt to target was pushed around a post.
In between, Tom Lawrence just shot from 20 yards after Villa was caught from the back – and it needed a great pickup from Fikayo TimorI to check Abraham.
Villa had a triple escape near the break. Jack Marriott was scorelessly withheld by Orjan Nyland, Wilson's follow-up was blocked by James Chester, initially to beat his arm, and the midfielder tried again and forced a save.
Cue a blatant miss from Marriott, lifting the ball over goalkeeper and bar.
Villa was no better in that respect. A dominant start of the second half was undermined by Abraham on his way and McGinn failed at the first post after a connection between Jack Grealish and Kodjia.
That was a series of misses where Kodjia was the most guilty before he was replaced.
And it was the man who came, Yannick Bolasie, who eventually opened Derby's cracking door. McGinn saw his starting cross buried at his left.
Within four minutes, McGinn was the provider for Abraham to beat the line – and Hourihane caused him to turn into a free kick that might have been saved by a dejected Carson after he had a hand to the ball.
In the end, the name that was sung was not from Terry – but "Dean Smith, he is one of ours", from the strong Villa that follows in a 30,000 crowd.