Instead of taking confidence from a very good performance in the Boxing Day draw versus West Ham at Villa Park, Aston Villa's players appeared to lack belief even more that a great escape from relegation might be possible in the defeat at Norwich two days later.
Following one impressive outing and one heartless display over the holiday fixtures, Villa will finish 2015 with just nine points halfway through the season and on pace to be one of the worst teams in Premier League history.
Here are the Aston Villa player ratings for these two recent matches, which were played on Saturday and Monday, on a scale of 1 to 10 with analysis of each player that stepped on the pitch at Villa Park and Carrow Road for the claret and blues:
GK: Brad Guzan, Ratings: 7 v WH, 5 at NC
Guzan made two fantastic saves against West Ham, including one on a free kick at the very end, to help Villa secure a point on Boxing Day. In one of his best matches in a poor season, the American goalkeeper showed fantastic reflexes to keep out Mauro Zarate in the first half on a low drive before stretching to rob Enner Valencia of a late winner. However, against Norwich, Guzan again allowed a firm shot to beat him right in the center of his net -- a problem which has plagued Guzan for many months now -- as the opening goal went right under him despite having a clear view at it.
RB: Alan Hutton, Ratings: 4 v WH, 4 v NC
Hutton continues to be somewhat effective in attack. He created two chances against West Ham and another at Norwich. But defensively he's been lacking in recent weeks following a strong spell in October and November. Several miscommunications with his fellow defenders and just bad mistakes in these two matches resulted in two of the three goals Villa conceded. He failed to properly close down Aaron Cresswell for West Ham's goal, while Norwich's second was completely on Hutton losing possession. Generally hesitant in defense over these two games.
CB: Jores Okore, Rating: 6 v WH
Posted eight clearances and two interceptions to go with his 88-percent passing in the West Ham match. Villa dominated for long spells, but Okore proved decent when called upon. Hopefully his injury that kept him out at Norwich is short term, because Villa are much better with Okore at RCB than when Richards is.
CB: Joleon Lescott, Rating: 5 v WH
Played a quiet but solid match in the West Ham draw, which was a rarity for Lescott this season.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 5 v NC
Recorded 10 clearances and three interceptions against Norwich, but the Villa defense just isn't as organized with Richards at center back. It just hasn't worked unfortunately. Hopefully he and manager Remi Garde recognize this and give Micah a chance to see what he can do at right back going forward.
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 4 v NC
Made 11 clearances and did very well at times against Norwich, but both goals at Carrow Road were scored on crosses that went over Clark's head and found Canaries players.
LB: Leandro Bacuna, Ratings: 6 v WH, 3 v NC
Was involved in positive ways against West Ham, hitting the target with a fine shot and generally posing a threat on the attack while defending well enough. But at Norwich, the introduction of Richardson seemed to confuse Bacuna as he struggled with his different role that I don't even know what it was supposed to be. Bacuna appeared to be playing left back when everyone thought he'd move into midfield, and it made for a disorganized Villa team.
LB?: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 4 v NC
Another mediocre performance from Richardson. Not sure what his purpose was in this match. Either just make him our left back and let him try to make himself comfortable there or leave him out of the side. This back and forth with Richardson is only hurting himself and Villa as a whole further.
CM: Idrissa Gana, Ratings: 6 v WH, 3 v NC
Showed good legs against West Ham but really struggled at Norwich. Has become a player who dictates how Villa perform at times. When he is breaking up play, getting on the ball and dribbling forward, Villa aren't bad. But when his passing is sloppy and he's muscled off the ball too frequently -- as he was at Norwich -- then Villa can't get going.
CM: Ashley Westwood, Ratings: 5 v WH, 4 v NC
Not the gamechanger Villa need. Found himself in good positions in both of these matches but failed to capitalize. Westwood works hard and possesses decent technical ability, but he's still probably just a good Championship midfielder at this point, which may help Villa next year at this rate.
CM: Jordan Veretout, Ratings: 7 v WH, 4 v NC
Continued his fantastic recent form with an involved display at Villa Park on Boxing Day, creating three chances and dominating the midfield for Villa against West Ham. But perhaps due to tiredness, he struggled at times two days later at Norwich while still creating a few chances. Still, Veretout has proven himself to be one of Villa's best players right now. The problem is, he still isn't really a match winner in the Premier League.
CM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 5 v WH
A strange Sanchez first half with West Ham. The opposite of his normal showing, Sanchez's passing and positioning was impressive and tidy, while his tackling and strength were lacking before he was injured close to the half.
ST: Jordan Ayew, Ratings: 7 v WH, 5 v NC
Undoubtedly Villa's best player at this point, Ayew again impressed against West Ham and scored another league goal with a well-taken penalty that showed the confident form he's in. Almost scored with a free kick at Norwich, but he wasn't as involved in the match without Gestede by his side. Ayew is good, but he still needs some space to work in and create for himself and teammates. He can do that with a big striker playing with him; he can't with Sinclair.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Ratings: 6 v WH, 4 v NC
Speaking of Gestede, he won an incredible 14 headers for Villa against West Ham and even showed some great hold-up play with his feet at times. He has developed some chemistry with Ayew and thrives when given starts to impose his strength and aerial ability on opponents throughout the 90 minutes. Struggled to make an impact as a sub versus Norwich and is a player who should start for Villa in a must-win at Sunderland.
ST: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 4 v NC
Started brightly at Norwich but completely disappeared from the match as his lack of chemistry with his teammates became more and more evident. Just not an effective player for this team right now. Ayew does everything Sinclair can -- but much better.
RW: Adama Traore, Ratings: 5 v WH, 4 v NC
Made a minimal impact against West Ham as a late sub. When given more time on the field at Norwich, he found it more difficult to beat his defenders and failed to create any openings of note for Villa.
AM: Carles Gil, Rating: 6 v WH
A creative influence against West Ham, Gil came on and performed well and then was strangely not used at Norwich. This is indicative of Villa's problem throughout this season. A player creates chances and posts 93-percent passing as an attacking sub in one game and then doesn't see the field at all in the next game when Villa need offensive improvement. It doesn't make much sense.
LM: Jack Grealish, 4 v NC
Played for 15 minutes at Norwich but didn't do anything of note.