Over the past week (and a day), I've been taking a look at whether or not Villa can get into Europe in three years, as per CEO Tom Fox's plans.
Generally, I've concluded that it will be possible. The seemingly-inevitable departures of Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph, and perhaps Christian Benteke (in due time) will pose a big challenge to the club as, in some ways, will the emergence of clubs like Southampton and West Ham United as challengers, but the potential is there. It'll probably take hitting lightning in a bottle (or, you know, taking a cup seriously again), but there's tangible reason to believe that this can happen.
But the biggest part of my conclusion isn't really about the feasibility or the likelihood that this will happen, rather it's about why having ambition matters.
Over the last three or four years, really, I think we can all agree that Aston Villa's sole mission has been to avoid relegation. During the McLeish year, it was painfully evident and in Lambert's first two seasons, youth development was all things considered secondary to staying in the division.
In many ways, I'll buy that it was a necessary evil. Martin O'Neill did a lot of stupid things to put Villa in a bad spot and really, they shot themselves in the foot a bit with the Darren Bent deal — though it's fair to argue that he kept them up in 2011 so maybe not.
But regardless, the club's spend was outweighing the production they were getting out of the squad and a period of consolidation had to occur one way or the other.
Still though, consider this: Villa's goal the last few years has been to lose less often than the worst teams in the league. That's not enjoyable for anyone. It can't be the long-term goal of the club, otherwise what's the point? Sure, year after year you can manage to survive but this club is bigger than that and should be after more.
But now there's a new mission at Villa Park, one that signals ambition and drive once again. Whether or not it's really feasible is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things — what matters more is that Aston Villa are willing to think forward again, to put their minds to winning more, not losing less.
What matters is that Fox and Lambert now have an eye on returning Villa to where the club should be.
Will they be successful? I don't know. And in some ways, I don't care. Because I know watching this pursuit is going to be much more enjoyable than watching the "just survive" goals of the last few years.