Back in October after Wolves deservedly won the first encounter between these sides, Steve Bruce stated there was a long winter ahead.
Despite being otherwise magnanimous in defeat, the implication of that comment was obvious.
Fast forward to March and whatever happens from here on out, nobody, including Bruce, can accuse our imports of wilting in the arctic weather.
In fact, despite Villa’s impressive rise from play-off hopefuls to genuine top two contenders, they come into his game further behind their opponents than they were after the 2-0 defeat at Molineux.
A big victory on Saturday though could still bring about a shift in momentum down the final stretch, so it promises to be a wonderful occasion inside a packed out Villa Park.
Like Wolves, Villa lost 2-0 at Fulham and could only muster a 1-1 draw with Preston. But out of their last 11 matches, those are the only two they haven’t won. That’s 28 points from 33, which is incredible.
I’ve seen a few of their games and even though they blow hot and cold for me, they do possess tremendous resilience.
They should have lost against Sheffield United in that 7 game winning run but dug in and then won it with a moment of brilliance from Snodgrass. Twice they fell behind against Sheffield Wednesday last week but ran out 4-2 winners.
I don’t think they’re the most fluid or technically adept team, but they have strong characters and a number of match winners in the group.
It took Bruce a long time to get to grips with his squad and I did wonder if he’d ever get the balance right, but they’re now a very dangerous Championship side.
The biggest question is probably who makes way for Ruben Neves? And for me it’s a complete coin toss as both Saiss and N’Diaye had stormers against Leeds.
But I think we saw at Fulham that better opposition may restrict their opportunities to get the ball through the lines and for that, there’s nobody better than Neves.
Given it’s a derby, I’d probably lean more towards N’Diaye for his sheer power, but if the plan is domination of the ball, Saiss would be the better bet. I’m glad it’s not my decision.
Despite Afobe getting on the scoresheet I’d stick with Bonatini up top. His link up play was a key component of the team performance at Elland Road and a repeat would do nicely. Benik will get his chance at some stage.
If Wolves win this game, I would say promotion goes from ‘highly likely’ to ‘foregone conclusion’. Victory over Leeds has alleviated a good amount pressure in the event of defeat.
Villa on the other hand, depending on what Cardiff and Fulham do, will probably feel like they have to get the win.
What will be interesting is whether Bruce sets his team up to attack or contain in the early exchanges. That decision may ultimately decide how this pans out.
I think if Wolves are allowed to get a foothold as they did at Elland Road, they will win the game. But I’m expecting Villa to press higher and harder and ask a lot more questions of our back three.
However, with Neves back and the midweek performance lifting morale, I’m backing us to secure a seismic victory – 2-1.
Up The Wolves!