Despite a spirited performance, Town were knocked out of the FA Cup at the third round stage after losing 2-1 to Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Blues took the lead midway through the first-half thanks to an Eric Lichaj own goal following good work from Michael Chopra, but Paul Lambert’s side hit back with two second-half goals.
Former Blue Darren Bent scored 30 seconds after the restart before Andreas Weimann sealed the win for the Premier League side with a late header.
Mick McCarthy made six changes to his side, with Patrick Kisnorbo being handed a Town debut. Fellow new recruits David McGoldrick and Aaron Mclean had to settle for a place amongst the substitutes.
The game had a real cup-tie feel to it right from the kick-off and Scott Loach, in for Stephen Henderson made an early save from Mark Albrighton, before then watching a Joe Bennett drive fly over his crossbar.
Blues did fashion a great chance of their own at the other end after 12 minutes, with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas feeding Chopra, but the striker was denied by Shay Given at the near post.
Seconds later and former Blue Darren Bent was unlucky to see his free-kick deflect wide of the target.
The England international was causing Town problems with his pace though and he raced clear of the Blues backline after 19 minutes before squaring the ball for Jordan Bowery, who failed to hit the target when sliding in at the back-post.
The striker was foiled again on the half-hour mark, seeing his effort kept out superbly by Loach when through on goal.
That miss was to cost the hosts as Blues punished Villa on the counter-attack. Great work from Chopra down the right-hand side saw him strike at goal and the ball was turned into his own net by Eric Lichaj to send the Blue Army into raptures.
Four minutes later and Blues could have doubled the lead. Chopra linked up well with Martin but the winger saw his effort curl into the arms of Given.
Chopra was causing the Villa defence a whole hosts of problems and he came close to scoring his second of the afternoon after connecting with Aaron Cresswell’s teasing cross, but again Given came to Villa’s rescue.
However just before the break Loach had to be at the top of his game to make a fine reaction save from Villa skipper Ciaran Clark to ensure Blues went in ahead at half-time.
The second-half got off to the worst possible start for Blues though as Bent raced clear to fire low into the corner to equalise, just 30 seconds after the restart.
Just before the hour mark the hosts went close again, this time Patrick Kisnorbo making a fine block over the bar from a Charles N’Zogbia cross.
Seconds later and left-back Bennett threatened the Town goal with a drive that flashed just wide of the post.
Loach was really showing Mick McCarthy what he can do and he made another fine stop midway through the second-half, tipping behind a Bent effort for a corner.
Both David McGoldrick and Aaron Mclean came on for their Town debuts and the latter was so close to scoring with 11 minutes remaining, but his stabbed effort was brilliantly tipped over the top by Given.
But Blues’ pressure was soon to be undone as Weimann headed the hosts in front after 82 minutes. The substitute rose well to Bennett’s left-wing cross and guided his header beyond Loach and into the far corner.
Town pushed for an equaliser that never came but the travelling Blue Army showed their appreciation at the final whistle by saluting Mick McCarthy’s players.
Blues return to league action next Saturday, making the trip to south Wales to take on league leaders Cardiff.
Aston Villa: Given, Clark, Baker, Lichaj, Bennet Bannan, Delph, Albrighton (Weimann 43), N’Zogbia (Ireland 70), Bent, Bowery (Agbonlahor 63). Subs not used: Guzan, Stevens, Carruthers, Benteke.
Town: Loach, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Smith, Cresswell, Emmanuel-Thomas (McGoldrick 60), Hyam, Reo-Coker, Martin, Chopra (Mclean 74), Murphy (Edwards 70) Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Chambers, Whight, N’Daw.
Booked: Kisnorbo, Hyam