As Lambert prepares for old club Norwich, Sportsmail asks what's gone wrong at Villa
21:30 GMT, 25 October 2012
What is going on at Aston Villa Paul Lambert was appointed in the summer to take the club forward with a fresh, bold approach.
But two wins in 24 matches paint a depressing picture.
In the club's last 38 games, equivalent to a league season, Villa have won just 32 points, which would have seen them relegated in every year but one since the Premier League began.
As Lambert prepares to welcome his former club Norwich, what are the problems Villa face and, more importantly, what is the solution
Slump: Paul Lambert is hoping to pull his side out of a rut by beating former club Norwich on Saturday
He arrived with a five-year plan in 2006, aiming to catapult Villa into the Champions League.
After MBNA, the credit card company he inherited, was bought by Bank of America for $35billion (21.7bn), he had the cash to do it.
Under Martin O'Neill, results improved markedly, but so did the investment.
Ultimately, the gamble failed. The American billionaire suffered during the financial crash and the ambition has been scaled back.
Lerner 's interest has been questioned by supporters, as he is infrequently seen at Villa Park these days.
Committed Randy Lerner's dedication to the Aston Villa cause has been questioned by some supporters
But he has to live in Cleveland, Ohio, to comply with criteria that allow his children to attend the colleges of their choice.
Suggestions that he is becoming bored appear flawed.
He sold the Cleveland Browns, the NFL franchise he inherited from his father, for $1bn (620million) this month.
American football was his father's passion. English football remains his passion, though following an investment of more than 200m and a significant decline in his personal fortune, he is attempting to make Aston Villa self-sufficient.
But after years of excess with regard to player contracts, that's easier said than done.
When the England international was signed from Sunderland for 24m in January 2011, it was made clear by Gerard Houllier, Villa's manager at the time, that he had been bought to score from chances created by Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.
Both have since left. Is it any wonder that Bent's goals are drying up
He has always been a taker of chances, rather than a creator of them.
Drying up: Darren Bent (right) has been stripped of his captaincy and left on the sidelines by Lambert recently
And his statistics demonstrate that. In the opening match of the season at West Ham, he touched the ball just 19 times.
It was a similar story last week at Fulham. Is that Bent's fault Is Paul Lambert using him to Villa's best advantage
After nine goals in 15 matches following Bent's arrival, Lerner nicknamed him The Mailman – because he always delivered.
The post has certainly been a little slower of late.
The sacrifice of quality
Former boss Alex McLeish highlighted an unpalatable truth in a Sportsmail interview last month.
Aston Villa cannot continue to sell players of the calibre of Gareth Barry, James Milner, Young and Downing without results deteriorating.
Other seasoned performers such as Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar and Olof Mellberg have simply walked away from the club for nothing.
Add to that the loss of club captain Stiliyan Petrov, happily now in remission from his battle against leukaemia, and here is the backbone of a team that could justifiably be asked to make an impression on the top six.
The kids aren't all right
Villa have one of the best records in the country for developing young talent.
Barry, Gabby Agbonlahor, Craig Gardner, Gary Cahill and Liam Ridgewell are established Premier League performers, nurtured by Bryan Jones and his academy team at Bodymoor Heath.
A lot is expected of the latest crop – perhaps too much – and they are being pushed to operate at a level that is beyond them.
Pastures new: The likes of James Milner (above) and Ashley Young (below) have moved on from Aston Villa
Pastures new: The likes of James Milner and Ashley Young (pictured) have moved on from Aston Villa
It is asking a lot for Barry Bannan, Eric Lichaj , Marc Albrighton, Andreas Weimann, Nathan Baker, Nathan Delfouneso and Ciaran Clark to step up all at the same time.
No other Premier League club have blooded as many youngsters at the same time.
And it's causing Villa pain to find out if they are up to it.
Taking over from McLeish, who earned 11 points with two wins in his first eight games in charge, Paul Lambert started from a position of strength.
But in his first eight matches, Lambert has won only one game and accrued five points. Apart from Bent, where are the stars
In the past Villa have had names such as Stan Collymore, Dion Dublin, Paul Merson, Steve Staunton, Gareth Southgate, David James, Dwight Yorke and Mark Bosnich.
They had stars in abundance. Not any longer. New sigings Matt Lowton (from Sheffield United), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Christian Benteke (Genk), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Joe Bennett (Middlesbrough), Ashley Westwood (Crewe) have all been given a platform.
Aston Villa have one of the youngest sides in the top flight.
The supporters recognise that the club had decent young players of an unknown quality. But Lambert has signed more of the same.
He says there is no directive from above to marginalise the high-earners, however his treatment of Bent does appear strange.
Struggle: Lambert (left) has yet to deliver results for Villa
Comments made by the Villa boss during the summer were positive beyond belief.
Now Bent has been stripped of the captaincy and dropped. Since Lambert took over there does appear to be more hunger.
More desire. More energy. But it's absolutely worthless unless all that is transformed into points.
Unless there is a significant improvement in the next two months, Lambert and Lerner will have to revisit their claret-and-blueprint.
If Lambert's gamble on youth backfires, it will cost Lerner a huge amount of money replicating what he did two years ago when Houllier was in charge, finding the players who can keep Villa in the Premier League.
But if, on the other hand, nothing is done, Villa cannot say the situation hasn't been coming.
The writing has been on the wall for some time. In claret and blue letters 10 feet tall.