Everton boss David Moyes was hoping the rough justice meted out to his side in recent weeks would act as a catalyst to get back to winning ways after to disappointing reversals.
Alan Stubbs and Simon Davies replaced the injured Nuno Valente and suspended James McFadden.
Martin O'Neill's Villa were pasted two weeks ago on Merseyside at Anfield, but the Irishman would have been concerned how easily his side rolled over to Chelsea during the 4-0 cup thrashing midweek.
Steve Davis made way for Isaiah Osbourne as the Villa manager made five changes to his misfiring side.
The doom merchants were predicting a bore-draw but both teams showed enough in the opening exchanges to suggest spectators would be treated to an entertaining and full-blooded game at least with, Gavin McCann being booked on five minutes for a rash tackle on Mikel Arteta.
The first real chance fell to Andy Johnson on 14 after a collision between Cahill and Wilfred Bouma released the pacy hitman, but the striker ran into trouble in Thomas Sorensen's area and was eventually dispossessed by Gary Cahill.
A few minutes later the striker found himself in acres of space on the left again but none of his team-mates could match his pace and he had no one to cross to.
Forgotten striker James Beattie replaced the injured Cahill on 22 minutes after Lee Carsley accidentally nobbled him.
Juan Pablo Angel was booked on 28 after Arteta was subjected to more rough treatment and Villa's physical approach, mostly toward the Spaniard and Johnson, was definitely putting a more classy Everton out of their stride.
Stubbs though did attempt to redress the balance with a harsh tackle on McCann with earned him a booking on 30 minutes.
Villa were defending resolutely and Everton were looking short of guile to open them up.
In fact it was Villa who nearly scored with Tim Howard having to parry a McCann shot on 30 which Joseph Yobo cleared up.
Villa went ahead four minutes before the break after Chris Sutton's glancing header from an Osbourne cross sent the away fans into rapture.
Johnson missed an absolute sitter in injury time after staying on his feet to shrug off the attention of Cahill, but put the ball wide with just Sorensen to beat.
Carsley almost levelled at the beginning of the second half but could not keep his shot down and it sailed over Sorensen's crossbar.
The Toffees were definitely in the hunt for the leveller though as they laid siege to the Villa goal.
Carsley again may have scored but Johnson's cross proved too difficult to control and his header went over.
Villa were defending their lead resolutely and Everton were finding the visitors' physical superiority hard to penetrate.
Moyes brought on young Victor Anichebe for Leon Osman with 22 minutes to go as he threw caution to the wind in search of an elusive leveller.
But it was Howard who was called into action with a great save from a stunning 30-yard daisy cutter from McCann.
Immediately at the other end Sorensen had to save from Beattie's close-range volley at the near post.
Carsley was booked for a late tackle on Bouma on 75 minutes after he should have again done better after fantastic work by Arteta. In the end the Ireland international shot tamely into Sorensen's arms.
Stilian Petrov almost wrapped the game up for Villa on 85 minutes but Howard was equal to the shot.
Everton huffed and puffed for almost the entire second half, but Villa were just too organised and despite the home side's dominance, never looked like conceding a goal once they went in front.