Villa 0-2 Middlesbrough
Boudewijn Zenden scored his first goal for Middlesbrough to leave Aston Villa still looking for their first league win since 20 September.
The Dutch loan-signing opened his account with a close-range header from Franck Queudrue's ball after 30 minutes.
He then played an important part in the second goal, winning a penalty after a foul by Lee Hendrie.
Striker Michael Ricketts tucked away the spot kick.
Both teams came into the match level on 11 points, each having scored just nine goals in the Premiership.
That lack of potency in attack shown by the teams this season was again on display during the opening quarter of the match.
So when Dutch midfielder Zenden popped up in the penalty box to give Middlesbrough the lead, it brought to life a game seemingly destined for a dull scoreless draw.
Steve McClaren's other high-profile intake, Gaizka Mendieta, who also opened Boro account this week, looked impressive throughout the match.
Just a few moments after seeing the Teesiders go into the lead, the Spaniard did his utmost to double their advantage with three long-range efforts, which narrowly crept over Thomas Sorensen's bar.
29 mins: Zenden gives Boro the lead
33 mins: Mendieta's 25-yard shot goes wide
35 mins: Mendieta's 35-yard free kick flies wide
47 mins: Ricketts puts away penalty
57 mins: Vassell effort goes wide
82 mins: Doriva booked for Boro
84 mins: Boro's Jonathan Greening booked
90 mins: Villa's Olof Mellberg booked
Villa manager David O'Leary looked for an early goal after the break, it came, but at the wrong end.
Zenden, who along with Mendieta was running the show for the visitors, was fouled in the penalty box by Lee Hendrie.
Referee Dermot Gallagher pointed straight to spot and it was left to Ricketts, who was partnering Juninho up front, to slot the the ball past Sorensen's right.
O'Leary was forced into making three tactical changes after going two goals down, bringing on Thomas Hitzlsperger, Darius Vassell and Dion Dublin.
But only Vassell's injection of pace troubled Boro's solid defence, marshalled by Colin Cooper and Gareth Southgate.
The England striker's fierce 20-yard effort stung the hands of Carlo Nash in the Boro goal.
Another substitute, Hitzlsperger, also produced a long-range effort four minutes from time, but his shot sailed over the bar.
That strike summed up Villa's effort on the day, high and wide of the mark.
For Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough it was two wins out of two, but perhaps more importantly for the manager his two major foreign signings were finally showing their promise.
Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hendrie (Vassell 51), McCann, Barry (Hitzlsperger 51), Whittingham, Angel, Allback (Dublin 71).
Subs not used: Postma, Stefan Moore.
Middlesbrough: Nash, Mills, Cooper, Southgate, Queudrue,
Mendieta, Boateng, Doriva, Zenden,
Juninho Paulista (Greening 79), Ricketts (Maccarone 74).
Subs not used: Riggott, Nemeth, Turnbull.
Booked: Doriva, Greening.
Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).