Photo Gallery: Norwich City made to pay a heavy price

Ultimately this will game will be consigned as a Premier League day to forget for the Canaries. The underlying message should linger a little longer.

Paul Lambert took less than 30 seconds of his post-match press conference with the gathered written media to use the words 'silly' and 'defending' in the same sentence to describe the defining moments of another entertaining day in the top flight life of Norwich City.

You suspect the Glasweigan may have adopted more industrial language within the confines of the dressing room. City's squad has a youthful energy and exuberance which has expressed itself in a joyfully free style of play that continues to win Norwich plenty of admirers.

But they are now operating in an unforgiving football environment. Hesitate for a split second in the wrong area of the pitch and you risk inviting danger. Follow that momentary lapse with a misplaced pass or weak tackle and the odds shorten on a fatal outcome.

Whatever Lambert states publicly, he knows full well Norwich can not rely on having to score goals in multiples to earn Premier League points. It's stating the blindingly obvious, yet no less pertinent, to observe conceding at the rate they have done since that manful display at Anfield is an unpalatable brew.

Yet Norwich go into another international hiatus in the top half of the table, ahead of both their newly promoted cousins. Digest your football through the prism fuelled by rolling television sports news and social media and six goals shipped in two games may well appear a crisis.

Adopt the longer, reflective view of proceedings to this point and any of half a dozen clubs lower down the pecking order would cast envious glances in the direction of City's goal difference. Norwich have plateaued in recent games since that first landmark away league win at Bolton dragged the curve in an upward direction.

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City have a manager and a group of players new to these surroundings, to the gruelling demands, the forensic exposure of every mistake or wrong decision. Fallow periods come with the territory.

Norwich made mistakes in the opening weeks. Aided by what felt like a concerted effort from officialdom to punish every perceived aberration as the acclimatisation process upon exiting the Football League appeared never-ending. But Norwich emerged on the other side stronger for the experience. Re-grouped, devised a system of play, tinkered with the personnel and reaped the rewards.

Lambert and his coaching staff are too cute not revise the formula again in the difficult weeks ahead; aided by the potential timely boost of fresh additions in the January transfer window. Allied to the return of some of those long term injured to bolster a starting roster which had remained largely unchanged.

Grant Holt's return to the frontline at Villa Park was as much a response to the imposing muscular barrier provided by Richard Dunne and James Collins as it was the club captain's own goalscoring cameos in the previous two games.

David Fox made way; followed within the opening 35 minutes by Bradley Johnson after suffering a bout of concussion – that impressive central midfield axis around which Norwich had produced of late. It was hardly coincidence Johnson's exit coincided with Villa's gathering storm.

Strip away the individual errors which beset Norwich in the Midlands and the reality is they were unable to nullify the twin threats of Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Sheer frightening pace fused with the predatory penalty box instincts of a striker who is prepared to miss plenty to ensure he is in the right place when it matters.

Bent's Ipswich connections ensured a less than favourable reaction from Norwich's huge travelling support. But the raw data over a 10-year career is indisputable. The 27-year-old scores one in every two over nearly 300 league appearances – the vast majority in the top flight. Bent is not a Luis Suraez or a Sergio Aguero. He needs a supply line. Agbonlahor offered a profitable outlet all afternoon.

The boyhood Villa fan was at his menacing best. Directness coupled with penetrating deliveries from the wide left. Anthony Pilkington's wondrous free-kick rightly claimed the first half headlines, but Agbonlahor was the star turn.

Kyle Naughton moved on loan from Tottenham in search of Premier League exposure. The talented right-back has found himself in the full glare during City's past two away excursions. Craig Bellamy was a constant menace at Anfield during a vibrant opening period when Liverpool surged forward in waves. Agbonlahor was even better; lining up the youngster and darting on the outside seemingly at will. With Bent, Emile Heskey and Charles N'Zogbia to contend with, Norwich's backline was overworked again like they had been in front of the Kop. Villa and Liverpool share more in common than a European Cup win in their lineage.

Both have attacking units blessed with blistering pace and goalscoring potential. It is the common denominator that sets the middle and lower ranking teams in the Premier League apart from the squads harbouring genuine European ambitions.

City's players had to play at an intensity singularly lacking when they have faced the likes of Stoke, Bolton and Wigan in the early weeks of the campaign. Clubs who have all posed problems, but none with the incessant ferocity to their play amplified by home crowds finally raised from their slumbers.

Norwich's vibrant start ensured only Norfolk voices could be heard as Pilkington and Steve Morison both tested Shay Given. Leon Barnett then swung and missed 10 yards out; the presence of City's centre back in the opposition half underling the balance of power.

John Ruddy's instinctive reaction stop at the opposite end after Heskey and Agbonlahor had teed up Bent was a portent of what lay ahead. Pilkington's lash only whipped Villa into a concerted response. Bent was inches from a decisive close range touch when Agbonlahor veered past Naughton. Two minutes later the duo combined in perfect sync to devastating effect. Albeit, at the expense of legitimate handball claims against Steven Warnock during the build up.

City navigated the rest of the opening period unscathed. All the more galling Norwich's resistance evaporated in kamikaze fashion three minutes after the restart. Agbonlahor profited from Barnett's misguided pass back and Ruddy's misjudgement.

Culpability is a futile exercise. Lambert made his feelings clear where he felt the blame lay for Villa's second after the event.

The net result was another deficit to reduce - which shortly moved into Blackburn territory when N'Zogbia eased Russell Martin under a long ball and harried Marc Tierney to clear straight to Agbonlahor. Telepathic partner Bent raced into familiar territory to slot past Ruddy.

Lambert introduced Simeon Jackson. The thinking was clear. Give Dunne and Collins a different type of poser. Yet, Norwich's riposte owed everything to Plan A. Holt, operating in a wider role on the left, teased Stephen Ireland before curling the sort of cross he goes to bed dreaming about for Morison. Simple in conception. Devastating in execution. Now it was Norfolk voices ringing around Villa Park again.

Holt appeared on the opposite flank to craft a centre that Alan Hutton needlessly headed behind.

Ireland then hauled down Fox but City's set piece maestro hit the first man. N'Zogbia was increasingly Villa's relieving 'out' ball.

Tierney was squared up only for the angled strike to fly wide of Ruddy's far post. Norwich's full back combined with Andrew Crofts deep in enemy territory but Holt headed over under pressure. It was frenetic, it was raucous. It was Blackburn at Carrow Road all over again.

Except this time the well was dry. No stoppage time comeback. Norwich under Lambert have reserves of character and belief to match any in the Premier League - but they are not superhuman. Not against sides assembled for multi-million pound price tags. Not against proven top flight outfits. But rest assured, Norwich will challenge the established order this season.