In this most chaotic and capricious of campaigns, here was the miss of the season and a moment Romain Saiss will forever be reminded of.
With the ball inches away from goal, and Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stranded after Conor Coady’s header had rebounded back off the post, Saiss had the simplest of tasks to score yet somehow succeeded in lifting a shot over the crossbar.
The Wolves defender played a key role in helping his team secure a clean sheet at Villa Park but it was the inexplicable miss at the other end that will be impossible for him to escape over the next few days.
If there is a more glaring chance wasted over the remaining months of the season, Saiss will be delighted to see it.
Aston Villa also suffered similar frustration, striking the woodwork twice in the first-half before strangely fading in the second, as injured captain Jack Grealish’s importance was once again underlined.
It was Saiss’s dreadful miss that proved the highlight of an underwhelming Midlands derby plagued by fatigue.
Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves head coach, said: “He should have done better but a mistake is something we can always be supportive of.
“We have no problem with him because he fought really well for the team. Hopefully when he gets another chance he will score.
“I wish I knew why we were so good in the second half and not in the first.
“There has been progress, we have improved and are now more confident in ourselves. This will make us stronger in the future.”
With Grealish still absent due to a shin injury, Villa have been under pressure to prove they can flourish without their talismanic captain.
An impressive victory at Leeds last weekend was followed by a dismal display and defeat against bottom team Sheffield United, underlining this squad is still very much a work in progress under Smith.
Villa could have been out of sight within the opening quarter of an hour, yet suffered huge misfortune after seemingly staging their own crossbar challenge.
Ollie Watkins was the first to experience frustration, striking the upright after just four minutes with a ferocious drive from 20 yards.
Then it was defender Ezri Konsa who also launched a shot against the bar after Bertrand Traore’s cross from the left was allowed to travel through a crowded penalty area to the back post.
In Nuno’s 150th league game as head coach, Wolves were relying on swift counter-attacks with the trickery and pace of Neto and unpredictability of Adama Traore.
Wolves’ passing in the first-half had been abysmal at times, but they finally produced their first snarl of defiance in the 50th minute.
After Wolves cleared a corner, Neto was found in space and advanced from his own half into the Villa penalty area, driving in a fierce shot which was pushed away by Martinez.
Neto is still only 20 but his potential is frightening, with his progress over the last six months one of the few positives in a difficult season for the club.
In the 57th minute came the moment which will haunt Saiss.
Neto’s cross found Coady in space and his header came back off the post and then rolled across the area but Saiss stretched out his leg to somehow direct the ball over the bar.
Villa were desperately lacking the guile and invention of Grealish, the ability to create a magical moment out of nowhere. The England international was sat in the stand watching on, and his return to the team cannot come quickly enough for Smith.
Coady missed another chance to score 14 minutes from time, turning into the area and having his shot deflected wide by Martinez.
There was late drama in added time when Rui Patricio saved from Watkins with his legs, but a goalless draw was inevitable.
Smith said: “Whenever Jack Grealish is not playing you are always lacking something. I thought it was still the best we’ve played since December.
"I keep saying there is a lot of inconsistency around the Premier League at the moment with the exception of Manchester City. There is tiredness and fatigue and I don't think many teams are stringing three or four results together.”
FT: Aston Villa 0 Wolves 0
Villa struck the bar twice early on, but Martinez produced a brilliant save to deny Wolves in a much improved second half from the away team. They were the more likely winners in that second half.
Really good challenge from Konsa when Jonny looked clear on the counter-attack.
Traore keeps the ball alive on the left, pushes the ball past his man and digs out a cross to the back post...but Targett wins a big header under pressure from Fabio Silva.
Hearts in mouths for Wolves. The ball broke to Watkins at the back post and he gets a snap shot off, saved by the feet of Patricio, and then Konsa shoots wide with the rebound.
Just three minutes added time
But Mings is still down so there will be more than that to play. Wolves have to defend this corner remember.
Watkins with a great run down the left, dragging his team forward, and wins a corner after his cross deflects off Coady and goes behind. Mings however, has done down holding the back of his knee. Does not look good.
I think Fabio Silva has bought that foul against Konsa but Wolves have a free-kick just outside the area. Replays show the defender did actually have a piece of his shirt. Neto is going to swing this in with his left foot. Straight down the throat of Martinez. Disappointing.
Watkins working hard to dispossess Dendoncker but the David ran down a blind alley. Been tough for Villa to sustain any attacks in this half.
Villa's Jacob Ramsey looked to be free inside the area but the flag went up. Wolves venture forward again - can they find a stroke of inspiration?
Neto is down holding his face but he is soon up and good to continue. The game is still being played deep in the Villa half. Been a strong showing from Wolves since the break.
Villa have another injury worry with Bertrand Traore down.
Saiss' miss earlier
Davis on for Villa. Neto spreads the play out to the left and Jonny is fouled by El Mohamedy. Wolves send all their defenders up and Neto is going to whip the ball in with his left foot.
SAVE MARTINEZ! That is brilliant from the goalkeeper. Barkley failed to clear his lines the ball was hooked back in and Coady was there to swivel and shoot from six yards out but the Villa No 1 stuck out his left hand to tip it round the post.
Neto taking the fight to Villa but he skews his cross over the bar. Villa are about to introduce Keenan Davis.
Watkins spins down the left channel but Dendoncker is there to get is his foot in at the expense of a corner. Barkley to take it, but Wolves deal with another set-piece.
High, wide and handsome from Neves but the momentum is building from Wolves.
Martinez did really well to claim a cross but then he put his team under more pressure with a quick throw out and Luiz was dispossessed. Wolves win a free-kick around 30 yards out. Neves, Moutinho and Neto over it...
Wolves have found their feet in this game now, working the ball into some really good positions. The home team are starting to look a little leggy. Semedo just needed to glance a header a little more and Neto was in but he got too much on it.
Ross Barkley is introduced for Villa. This would be a good time for him to hit the heights he reached earlier in the season.
A HUGE chance goes begging for Wolves. They worked the corner brilliantly, taking it short and picking out Coady at the back post who was in acres. The centre-back's header cannoned off the near post and then his defensive partner Saiss fired over from just a few yards out.
Wolves playing with more authority. Not sure Villa have too many attacking options on the bench. Adama whips a good cross towards Neto at the back post but Targett heads behind at a corner.
Better from Wolves again. This time Neto's cross is headed away at the back post straight to the right foot of Ruben Neves but his shot on the volley flies over. That was right in his wheelhouse but the connection was wrong.
Wolves will always have a chance in games with players like Neto and Adama in their team. It is almost frustrating to watch how infrequently they feed them as a team.
Watkins carrying the biggest threat again but this time Saiss gets a good block in. From the resulting corner Wolves head clear and Neto is away on the break!
He almost passes to himself - pushing the ball past Targett and beating him for sheer pace, and he battered a shot towards the near post but Martinez stood up well to save.
Neto and Semedo trying to tag team down the Wolves right but Moutinho's pass evaded both players.
We're back under way!
Wolves need to carry much more of a threat in this half.
HT: Villa 0 Wolves 0
Villa have been the better side and hit the woodwork twice early on, but this has been a low-scoring, tight match just as we expected. Wolves have had a couple of dangerous breaks but have flattered to deceive. They need to get Adama on the ball more often.
El Mohamady gets in some space down the right but his cross is too loopy and Wolves deal with it. Villa have just not had that final pass so far today.
Saiss gets himself in a mess up against McGinn and Villa have the chance to swing a free kick in from the right. Luiz takes but the delivery does not threaten and Semedo heads away.
Wolves stand firm at a corner and look like they will inch to half time unscathed. Villa will believe they have had the best of the chances.
Watkins has been the most dangerous attacker on the pitch by far. This time he skips through the challenge of Semedo but his right-foot shot is blocked.
Great switch of play by McGinn to Targett but the cross was all wrong. Good defending from Mings to come across and put the ball in the stands when Neto looked like streaking away.
Coady in the right place at the right time to head Douglas Luiz's cross away. There's not been a shot on target so far, although Villa have hit the bar twice.
Sanson ventures down the left again and Villa win a corner. Wolves clear though. The away team have looked a little more solid in the last 10 minutes or so.
Good play from Neto to bring Wolves over halfway and draw a foul from Sanson. The Villa midfielder picks up a yellow card. Then Moutinho is fouled by Trezeguet. A bitty few minutes of football. Wolves are sending the big men up, going to whip this one into the box. Great delivery, and the ball was not far away from dropping at Coady's feet.
Konsa hitting the bar
Coady catches Watkins, strong forward play yet again. Wolves have not got to grips with him so far.
Neves with a high boot in midfield but he got to the ball first to start a Wolves attack. But Semedo is halted on the edge of the Villa area.
Better from Wolves as Nelson Semedo breaks forwards and shifts the ball to Neto. Wolves work the ball back to Moutinho who gets the scooped pass all wrong and Villa have a goal kick. Matt Targett and Wolves' Dendoncker are down with knocks.
Really good play from Watkins again to show for a ball down the line from Targett and lay it off for McGinn. Villa keep the pressure on but Coady rises to head Sanson's cross clear.
Watkins in oceans of room again but this time his shot deflects into the arms of Patricio. Villa have been the better side so far, no doubt.
Watkins' early effort
Villa hit the bar again! They work a free-kick on the left flank short and Traore whips a cross in that evades Mings and drops for his centre-back partner Konsa. Controlled it well and got solid contact on it, but his right-footed effort struck the bar.
Both teams are dropping into a defensive shape when they are out of possession. Sanson finds some space out towards the left and gets Villa on the front foot. Targett is seeing plenty of the ball down the left.
Adama Traore looks to be playing from the left today and he lost his bearings there. Wolves have had a couple of good spells of possession and do look threatening.
Then McGinn nips in well in midfield to set Watkins away on a short counter, he cut inside on his right and sat the Wolves defender down but elected to pass to Bertrand Traore when the shot was on. Surprising.
Menacing run down the right from Neto, but no Wolves player got up in support of him for a low cross. Bright and breezy start so far, contrary to expectations that this was going to be cagey.
Almost a spectacular opening goal from Villa! McGinn punches a good pass forward into Watkins, Trezegeut's run is a distraction for the Wolves defence who back off the striker and he cracks a shot off the bar from 25 yards.
Wolves are the first team to settle into a period of possession, a positive start. Feels like they are visiting Villa Park at the right time but Villa still have some threats. Targett swings a cross in but it is too deep.
Wolves get us started, looks like they are playing a 3-4-3.
Matty Cash and Grealish sat in the stands
Two big misses for Aston Villa. Villa attack so much down the left flank thanks to Grealish's influence:
Dean Smith talking
He says he is confident that has team have learned to play without Grealish. Says Sanson needed 10 days or so to come to terms with the intensity of their training but he is now ready for a first Premier League start.
Wolves team and subs: Willian Jose starts up front
Aston Villa team and subs: Starts for Sanson and Douglas Luiz
Aston Villa looking to get back on track
Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Wolves have operated in different parts of the league table this season, but an away win at Villa Park would reduce the gap to just two points.
Both teams look a little short of fire-power just now. Jack Grealish is not expected to return from injury for Villa, who failed to find a way past 10-man Sheffield United in the week. Wolves are still desperate for the return on Raul Jimenez up front, with Nuno Espirito Santo starting without a specialist striker at Manchester City. Adama Traore and Pedro Neto could be an effective counter-attacking pair but they could go for Fabio Silva as a more traditional No 9 option.
Dean Smith has been searching for the right balance in midfield, with Douglas Luiz dropping away from his early season peak and Marvellous Nakamba preferred to offer them some steel. In the absence of Grealish, John McGinn will need to propel them forward but like many teams this season some of Villa's best football has come away from home. A 13th Premier League victory of the season would be their best return since the 2009-10 season. Villa have lost 10 of the 11 games in which they've conceded however, so they are not always full of goals. Matty Cash, Kortney Hause and Wesley are nearing a return to fitness
Smith is confident they can bounce back from defeat at Bramall Lane: “We restricted Sheffield United to even fewer chances. Unfortunately, we didn’t take our big chances on the night. In some ways we played better against Sheffield United than we did against Leeds but we didn’t get the result.
“Everybody table-watches a bit, and with Sheffield United at the bottom of the league you feel it’s one you should go and win.
“The lads are in a good place because they know they played well against Leeds and Sheffield United.”
Full team news on the way shortly.