Aston Villa put their recent struggles behind them as they sealed a first Premiership win over rivals Birmingham.
Julian Gray wasted a golden opportunity for the hosts before Kevin Phillips put Villa ahead after 19 minutes.
Goalkeeper Maik Taylor got a hand to the former England striker's powerful shot but could not keep it out.
And although Blues were invigorated by the second-half introduction of David Dunn after a 10-month lay-off, they could not force an equaliser.
The result lifted Villa above their Midlands rivals in the Premiership table and gave them a first away win in the league for six months.
David O'Leary's side began confidently and had already impressed with some tidy approach play before they were rewarded with the opening goal.
Gareth Barry's clever flick found Phillips and Taylor could not stop his fierce left-footed strike.
Birmingham threatened largely through the strength of Emile Heskey up front and the trickery of Jermaine Pennant on the right wing.
The pair combined for Birmingham's best chance of the first half after only nine minutes.
Heskey flicked on Pennant's dangerous cross but the unmarked Gray sent his shot beyond the far post.
But following Phillips' strike, the hosts' hopes of equalising before half-time were hit when manager Steve Bruce was forced to reshuffle his team, replacing the injured Stephen Clemence with Jiri Jarosik.
Bruce made a second change at half-time, this time tactical, when he brought on Finnish striker Mikael Forsell for the ineffective Walter Pandiani.
Birmingham dominated possession, Pennant a constant threat with his set-piece deliveries.
However, Villa's defence, although shaky at times, survived.
As the clock ticked down, Dunn arrived to a warm reception from the home crowd and the midfielder was immediately denied the equaliser by a superb block from Aaron Hughes.
After substitute Juan Pablo Angel squandered a chance to make Villa safe, the lively Dunn was again involved when he drove at the visitors' defence but put his low shot wide.
With Birmingham increasingly desperate, Dunn went down under a Wilfred Bouma challenge in the box but referee Graham Poll rightly waved away his penalty appeals.
Deep in injury time, Matthew Upson sent a free header woefully wide and Birmingham's search for a first home win of the season goes on.
At the final whistle, O'Leary ran over to the directors' box and repeatedly punched the air to celebrate his side's triumph over their West Midlands rivals.
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce:
"With the start we have had it will be a tough winter.
"I think a draw would have been a fair result today but it has gone against us. We put the ball in the box umpteen times and it just did not fall for us.
"But you cannot feel sorry for yourself. We just have to hope it turns for us."
Aston Villa boss David O'Leary on his celebrations:
"This is a great win for the fans and players.
"I'm delighted for everyone at the club. The chairman Doug Ellis has been very ill and he made a big effort to come today.
"He has taken a lot of stick this week and I could see how delighted he was."
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Tebily, Martin Taylor, Upson, Clapham (Dunn 67), Pennant, Johnson, Clemence (Jarosik 39), Gray, Heskey, Pandiani (Forssell 45).
Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Lazaridis.
Booked: Forssell, Johnson.
Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Bouma, Milner, Davis, Bakke (Djemba-Djemba 84), Barry (Berger 66), Moore, Phillips (Angel 64).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Delaney.
Booked: Ridgewell, Mellberg.
Goals: Phillips 19.
Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).