Tottenham Hotspur supporters scurried off into the Birmingham night in jovial mood yesterday, chanting the name of Harry Kane, but this dramatic victory could not mask how weak this squad has become.
Kane has surely made himself undroppable for Mauricio Pochettino after his deflected free-kick further enhanced his reputation with fans desperate for a homegrown hero.
For 80 minutes this was a shambolic performance, however, and Pochettino's decision to leave Southampton in the summer was resembling more of a backward step than Michael Jackson's moonwalk.
Even their participation in the detested Europa League next season appears forlorn on this evidence and Thursday nights may soon be football-free.
Spurs had conceded the first goal against Aston Villa in more than nine hours, after Andreas Weimann's opener, and it was not until the final six minutes that they finally shook off their inertia to capitalise on Christian Benteke's dismissal.
Benteke was given a straight red card in the 64th minute by referee Neil Swarbrick for pushing Ryan Mason in the face yet Spurs still struggled, staring down the barrel of a third successive defeat for the first time since November 2012.
Nacer Chadli's equaliser finally breathed life into the visitors and Kane's free-kick, taking a wicked deflection off Nathan Baker, emphatically proved a point and secured three for his team, after he had started on the bench.
The fans in the Doug Ellis Stand had demanded his introduction for nearly an hour but this was a head-turning cameo and he surely has to start against Stoke next Sunday.
Pochettino said: "Harry is an important player. We have a lot of very good players but he maybe deserves to play in the Premier League more. I understand the fans [chanting his name] because our position in the table wasn't too good. He had a big impact and I'm happy for him."
In theory, Spurs are now back in the hunt for a Champions League, but that is surely no more than a flight of fantasy as Pochettino will need time to improve a squad which is woefully low on quality.
For Paul Lambert, there seems to be no respite as his team crashed to their sixth successive defeat.
Villa must have been thinking their own fortune was finally going to turn after Weimann scored the club's first goal in 547 minutes.
Charles N'Zogbia easily bypassed Danny Rose on the right and his low cross found Weimann who slid in to divert the ball into the bottom corner.
"We're Aston Villa, we score when we want," crowed the Holte End. (© Daily Telegraph, London)