Aston Villa, suffering their worst start to any season since 1969, face a banana skin of a Capital One Cup tie at Swindon, who have fond memories of that particular year. Back in the flower power era they won the competition that has had more aliases than Ronnie Biggs, when it was still known as the League Cup.

It is a trip struggling Villa and their manager, Paul Lambert, could do without. Win and it is no more than expected of a Premier League team playing League One opposition. Lose and the pressure created by an alarming 17th place in the table will only intensify.

Early days these may still be but Villa look ominously short of top-tier quality – a malaise that pre-dates Lambert's appointment in the summer. The decline began under his unlamented predecessor, Alex McLeish, who must share responsibility for a sequence of 39 matches which have seen Villa accrue a meagre 33 points – relegation form.

Lambert has imposed a new strategy, embracing youth and eschewing experience. It is a bold and in some ways praiseworthy approach but at present it is plainly not working, and a rethink may be needed to repair what is an increasingly dangerous situation.

Lambert probably deserves the benefit of any doubt after his outstanding work at Norwich, with whom he gained successive promotions before finishing a creditable 12th in the Premier League last season. That said, it is any manager's job to extract the best from the playing resources available and it is questionable whether he is doing that by omitting Alan Hutton, Stephen Warnock, Charles N'Zogbia, Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent in favour of Matt Lowton, Joe Bennett, Brett Holman, Karim El Ahmadi and Christian Benteke.

In fairness Benteke scored a well-taken goal, curling home Holman's centre to give Villa the lead, but the £7m acquisition from Genk has missed a hatful in previous games and, with two from seven appearances, the Belgian international has yet to prove he is a better bet than England's Bent.

The other young men on whom Lambert is relying are a fairly ordinary bunch and Joe Bennett's inexperience cost Villa dear, the full-back's dismissal after 52 minutes, for a silly second yellow card, reducing them to 10 men and enabling Norwich to crank up the pressure which produced Michael Turner's emphatic headed equaliser.

Norwich are in much the same precarious position as Villa, one point better off but also with a solitary win from nine matches. But they are at least improving, having beaten Arsenal the previous week. They also pass the ball more economically than Lambert's young charges and on that basis are better equipped for the Premier League. Wes Hoolahan, in particular, possesses the clever creativity Villa lack.

Despite the discouraging evidence, Lambert intends to persevere with his youth project and claims it has the full backing of the absentee owner, Randy Lerner. He said: "I speak with the chairman all the time. We have a good relationship. He's very supportive. I don't have any problems there. He's behind the project we have here. We won't be dropping out of this league. I know we won't. I have that confidence, that belief. We'll be fine."

Does Tuesday's tie give him an opportunity to play Shay Given, Ireland, Bent and others? "I'll pick a team that I think will win the game," said Lambert. "It's a chance to get into the quarter-finals and I've always said that, if you are in a competition, you should try to win it."

Man of the match Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)