Aston Villa produced a fine second-half display to ease past a disappointing Middlesbrough side at Villa Park.
After an insipid first half, Martin Laursen gave Villa the lead after the hour mark by prodding in from six yards from substitute Luke Moore's flick on.
Moore wrapped up the points by firing into the top corner from close-range as the visitors' defence caved in.
Boro's best chance fell to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but his stinging drive was fabulously blocked by Olof Mellberg.
Villa boss David O'Leary rang the changes after their dismal 3-1 home defeat against Everton last weekend and the hosts controlled the opening exchanges, with Gareth Barry and Matthieu Berson both getting early shots in on the Boro goal.
But the game soon became bogged down in midfield and neither side looked particularly likely to prize open the opposition's defence.
Ray Parlour set up Hasselbaink on the edge of the box, but his goalbound shot was diverted away by the lunging figure of Mellberg.
Nolberto Solano was trying his best to inject some life into a desperately dull encounter, but the Peruvian's team-mates were not on the same wavelength and some good Villa openings were wasted.
If the first half was lacklustre, the second half was positively dramatic in comparison.
Boro winger Stewart Downing skipped past a couple of tackles before testing Thomas Sorensen with a low 25-yard right-foot shot.
Then Solano had a fabulous chance to open the scoring, but he could only slice wide on the turn from six yards with the Boro goal at his mercy.
O'Leary sent on striker Moore to replace the ineffective Darius Vassell, and the 19-year-old wasted no time making an impact.
Villa nearly went ahead when Lee Hendrie burst through the middle, only to be stopped by a last-ditch Gareth Southgate block, but they were not to be denied for long.
Solano swung over a cross from the right and Moore flicked it on to Laursen inside the six-yard box, the Dane poking the ball over the line.
With 12 minutes left Villa got the crucial second goal to make sure of the points, Moore finishing neatly inside the box after Carlo Nash had failed to hold Solano's free-kick.
The Villa fans had used the occasion to protest against owner Doug Ellis' lack of investment in the club, but Ellis was beaming at the final whistle as his side moved into the top half of the Premiership.
Villa boss David O'Leary:
"We are a mid-table team who got into sixth place last year.
"Can we achieve what we did last year? It's a big ask. I thought it was a big ask last season, and we did it.
"We needed that after last week's 3-1 defeat by Everton - I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, but the bottom line was to get a result."
Boro boss Steve McClaren:
"The Villa players showed more passion and urgency and won every second ball.
"I was disappointed with our performance - so disappointed I can't even get angry about it. It was very unlike us.
"Maybe the Uefa Cup is on their minds. But we've still got nine games to go in the Premier League. Today was a bad day at the office."
Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Laursen, Samuel, Solano, Hendrie, Berson, Davis, Barry, Vassell (Luke Moore 57).
Subs Not Used: Hitzlsperger, Postma, Djemba-Djemba, Ridgewell.
Goals: Laursen 64, Luke Moore 79.
Middlesbrough: Nash, Parnaby, Southgate, Riggott, Queudrue, Nemeth (Graham 65), Parlour, Doriva, Zenden, Downing (Job 82), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: Knight, Cooper, McMahon.
Booked: Doriva, Parlour.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).