Perhaps, most pleasing of all for manager Roberto Mancini was the hat-trick by former Inter Milan forward Balotelli, who has reportedly been feeling homesick.
The 20-year-old Italian had only mustered two Premier League goals prior to Tuesday's contest but he showed that he can provide a potent alternative to Carlos Tevez, who was on the bench as he rested a sore hamstring, in the lone striker role.
Mancini's team have lost only one of their last 10 league matches and can look forward to their home fixture against Blackpool on New Year's Day with confidence.
However, the problems continue to mount for Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier, whose team have won only two of their last 13 Premier League matches.
Their next fixture is against Chelsea, another out-of-form side, at Stamford Bridge on 2 January.
Mancini happy to keep momentum going
Villa were always struggling after City scored twice in the opening 13 minutes.
Balotelli had not previously scored in the league at Eastlands but found the net after only eight minutes with a clever penalty after he had been clumsily dragged to the ground by Lichaj. The Italian paused in his approach to the ball and waited for Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel to commit himself before slotting home.
The return of Balotelli was one of five changes to the City side and it was Lescott, another of the recalled players, who struck next.
The defender climbed majestically at the near post to convert Johnson's corner. Barry Bannan made a valiant effort to head the ball clear but it was adjudged to have crossed the line.
David Silva was in sparkling form, orchestrating play in front of the Villa defence, and the Spaniard dazzled the opposition defence with a weaving run into their penalty area.
His subsequent low curling strike was parried by Friedel but the American was powerless to prevent Balotelli slotting home from inside the six-yard box.
Silva went close again before the break after collecting a square pass from Johnson but his strike took a wicked deflection and narrowly missed the goal with Friedel stranded.
There had been precious little encouragement for Houllier as he watched from the sidelines but his team did come close to a goal before the interval.
City keeper Joe Hart did well to parry a strike from Albrighton and Lescott made a brilliant last-ditch clearance to prevent Nigel Reo-Coker converting the rebound.
The visitors looked bright at the start of the second half but any faint hopes of a sensational comeback were ended abruptly when Albrighton clumsily fouled Johnson and Balotelli completed his hat-trick with another superb penalty.
Downbeat Houllier disappointed by display
Houllier tried to inject fresh impetus by bringing on Fabian Delph and Nathan Delfouneso but it was the home side who continued to look the most dangerous.
City substitute Jo should have converted a flick-on from the imperious Vincent Kompany but he shot wastefully wide from six yards.
Villa did have one final chance late in the contest but Hart saved Lichaj's crisp strike superbly.
90:00+1:56 Foul by Fabian Delph on James Milner, free kick awarded. Patrick Vieira restarts play with the free kick.
89:22 Fabian Delph fouled by James Milner, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Eric Lichaj.
89:22 Booking The referee books James Milner for unsporting behaviour.
87:59 Mario Balotelli is penalised for a handball. Robert Pires takes the free kick.
87:06 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Robert Pires from the right by-line, Vincent Kompany makes a clearance.
86:56 Eric Lichaj takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
83:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Pablo Zabaleta on Nathan Delfouneso. Stewart Downing has an effort direct from the free kick.
82:09 Corner from the left by-line taken by James Milner, save made by Brad Friedel.
80:10 Corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing, Pablo Zabaleta manages to make a clearance.
80:10 Substitution Robert Pires on for Nigel Reo-Coker.
79:46 Corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing, Micah Richards manages to make a clearance.
79:32 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Mario Balotelli.
79:19 Fabian Delph takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
78:51 Short corner taken by Stewart Downing from the right by-line.
76:09 Substitution Wayne Bridge on for Nigel De Jong.
74:36 Free kick awarded for a foul by Fabian Delph on James Milner. Direct free kick taken by Nigel De Jong.
72:17 James Milner takes a shot. Carlos Cuellar gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Adam Johnson, James Collins manages
to make a clearance.
70:03 A cross is delivered by Adam Johnson, Effort on goal by Pablo Zabaleta from just inside the area clears the bar.
69:09 Eric Lichaj challenges Adam Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Micah Richards takes the free kick.
69:09 Booking The referee shows Eric Lichaj a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
68:27 Foul by Pablo Zabaleta on Gabriel Agbonlahor, free kick awarded. Stewart Downing crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance
made by Vincent Kompany.
67:14 Outswinging corner taken by Adam Johnson, Joao Alves Jo conjures a left-footed shot from inside the six-yard box that clears
65:56 Patrick Vieira concedes a free kick for a foul on Nigel Reo-Coker. James Collins restarts play with the free kick.
62:04 Header by Nathan Delfouneso from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
62:04 Substitution Joao Alves Jo joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gnegneri Toure Yaya.
57:19 Stiliyan Petrov challenges Mario Balotelli unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Patrick Vieira.
57:19 Substitution James Milner replaces David Silva.
56:47 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Eric Lichaj by Mario Balotelli. Eric Lichaj takes the direct free kick.
56:13 Nathan Delfouneso takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
55:08 Substitution Nathan Delfouneso joins the action as a substitute, replacing Marc Albrighton.
55:08 Substitution Fabian Delph comes on in place of Barry Bannan.
54:14 The assist for the goal came from Adam Johnson.
54:13 GOAL - Mario Balotelli:Man City 4 - 0 Aston Villa Placed penalty scored by Mario Balotelli. Man City 4-0 Aston Villa.
53:38 Unfair challenge on Adam Johnson by Marc Albrighton results in a Penalty.
53:08 Adam Johnson takes the inswinging corner, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
52:45 Patrick Vieira takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
52:19 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson, Carlos Cuellar manages to make a clearance.
46:53 Gabriel Agbonlahor is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Joleon Lescott.
45:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Nigel De Jong on Stiliyan Petrov. Stewart Downing has an effort direct from the free kick.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:00+1:13 The players leave the pitch at half time.
44:08 Micah Richards takes a shot from 35 yards and missed to the left of the target.
42:05 Effort from the edge of the box by Stephen Warnock goes wide of the right-hand upright.
41:45 Corner taken short by Marc Albrighton.
41:29 Marc Albrighton takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
40:59 Stewart Downing delivers the ball, Micah Richards makes a clearance.
39:06 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor on Micah Richards. Direct free kick taken by Joe Hart.
38:12 The ball is crossed by Marc Albrighton, save made by Joe Hart.
37:26 Free kick awarded for a foul by Mario Balotelli on Nigel Reo-Coker. Carlos Cuellar takes the free kick.
35:28 The assistant referee signals for offside against Mario Balotelli. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
34:32 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stiliyan Petrov by David Silva. Stiliyan Petrov restarts play with the free kick.
33:08 The ball is swung over by Adam Johnson.
32:51 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson from the right by-line, save made by Brad Friedel.
32:37 David Silva takes a shot. Blocked by Eric Lichaj.
31:06 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson, clearance by James Collins.
30:47 David Silva takes a shot. Blocked by James Collins.
30:18 Nigel Reo-Coker concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Johnson. Nigel De Jong takes the free kick.
29:52 Adam Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen Warnock. Stephen Warnock restarts play with the free kick.
29:25 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Stiliyan Petrov. David Silva restarts play with the free kick.
27:50 Patrick Vieira concedes a free kick for a foul on Nigel Reo-Coker. Stiliyan Petrov takes the direct free kick.
26:04 Assist by David Silva. David Silva takes a shot. Save made by Brad Friedel.
26:04 GOAL - Mario Balotelli:Man City 3 - 0 Aston Villa Mario Balotelli grabs a goal from close in low into the middle of the goal. Man City 3-0 Aston Villa.
22:17 Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor on Vincent Kompany, free kick awarded. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
21:48 Mario Balotelli concedes a free kick for a foul on Stiliyan Petrov. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.
20:35 Unfair challenge on Stephen Warnock by Micah Richards results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Stiliyan Petrov.
17:42 Stephen Warnock challenges Adam Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by David Silva.
17:42 Booking Stephen Warnock shown a yellow card.
13:22 Gabriel Agbonlahor fouled by Vincent Kompany, the ref awards a free kick. Stephen Warnock takes the direct free kick. Adam
Johnson challenges Stiliyan Petrov unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Stewart Downing from
the free kick.
12:06 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Adam Johnson, the assist for the goal came from Adam Johnson.
12:06 GOAL - Joleon Lescott:Man City 2 - 0 Aston Villa Joleon Lescott finds the net with a headed goal from close in. Man City 2-0 Aston Villa.
10:36 Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes a shot. Carlos Cuellar gets a block in.
8:49 Stephen Warnock gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Micah Richards. Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes the free kick.
7:29 Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Eric Lichaj results in a Penalty.
7:29 GOAL - Mario Balotelli:Man City 1 - 0 Aston Villa Mario Balotelli scores a penalty. Man City 1-0 Aston Villa.
Correction - 7:15 Eric Lichaj challenges Mario Balotelli unfairly and gives away a Penalty.
Correction - 7:15 GOAL - Mario Balotelli:Man City 1 - 0 Aston Villa Mario Balotelli scores a penalty. Man City 1-0 Aston Villa.
1:02 Mario Balotelli is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by James Collins.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
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