Ezri Konsa's second-half goal gave Aston Villa victory over 10-man Sheffield United, who will rue the harshest of red cards that left them a player short for 78 minutes.
Skipper John Egan was dismissed after tugging Ollie Watkins back as he chased down a long ball from Tyrone Mings, which Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale may well have cleared anyway.
Even after that, the Blades should have been in front after Matt Targett felled Chris Basham in the area, but league debutant Emiliano Martinez produced a great save from John Lundstram's penalty.
For a long time Villa did not look like breaking the deadlock against the stubborn South Yorkshire outfit until Mings flicked on Targett's corner and Konsa headed back across Ramsdale and into the net.
Blades will be fine. It is understandable to surmise that Sheffield United could get relegated this season. They have little impetus in attack, the pre-Covid 19 dreamy days seem even longer away than for the rest of us and they have started with consecutive league defeats (plus a League Cup exit to Burnley on penalties).
If this game showed anything though, it was the spirit that still resides in Chris Wilder's charges. For 50 minutes after Egan's dismissal, they were organised and disciplined and looked eminently capable of surviving a full game despite being a man down.
This capability to defend is something half the teams in the Premier League, at least, lack and it will stand them in good stead for the rest of the campaign. It will be hard and they will not go near the giddy heights of the last season but their canny manager and the 100% buy-in he gets from his players will be enough to keep them up.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Chris Basham (Sheffield United): This really is an award which could have been shared by all the Blades defenders who battled creditably to deny Villa after they were down to 10 men. Basham was particularly strong though, playing on the right hand side of the back three initially and then in a centre-back pairing after the sending off, meaning he had to deal with the dual threat of Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish.
The defender made numerous blocks and interceptions and an audacious run also brought the penalty kick which could well have given the Blades a win if Lundstram had converted it. He was subbed in the 69th minute as his manager looked to attack but when the game was alive, he was the best player.
Aston Villa: Martinez 7, Cash 7, Mings 7, Konsa 8, Targett 7, McGinn 6, Luiz 6, Hourihane 7, Trezeguet 6, Watkins 6, Grealish 7. Subs: Davis 5.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale 6, Basham 8*, Egan 5, O'Connell 7, Baldock 7, Lundstram 7, Berge 6, Fleck 6, Stevens 6, McGoldrick 5, Burke 6. Subs: Ampadu 5, Osborn 6, McBurnie 5.
12 - RED CARD! That came out of nowhere. A long ball from Tyrone Wings down the inside right channel. John Egan was tugging his arm but surely that is not a goal-scoring opportunity.
33 - PENALTY! Fine run and pass from Oli Burke who played a diagonal ball behind Targett for Basham and he stuck out a leg which felled the attacking centre back.
36 - AND IT'S SAVED! Superb stop from Martinez diving to his right. I hope they don't penalise him for coming off his line... it seems they won't.
63' - GOAL! Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United. Targett puts a corner kick to the front post that Mings flicks on and Konsa heads back across the goalkeeper, not the most powerful header but placed perfectly.