So the wait goes on. This was supposed to be the breakthrough, the beginnings of a feat of escapology, the first win since Stoke City were beaten at the tail end of last season, way back in early May. QPR now have the dubious honour of equalling the longest winless start to a Premier League season, joining Swindon Town's travails in season 1993-94.

Harry Redknapp strained to disguise his frustration. The matchwinner that QPR yearned for, knocked on the door for, never quite materialised, and "lift-off time", which he had been so hopeful about, fizzled out. "We just needed a goal and something to fall for us," he said. "The place would have taken off. To go to Wigan with a win under our belt would have been massive. Now we have got to go to Wigan and win."

Although Brad Guzan, the solid American in goal for Aston Villa, was a major factor in ensuring the points were shared, QPR can also reflect that they were not quite creative enough, or ruthless enough, to make the best of their second-half dominance.

Everybody around Loftus Road sensed this was a match that desperately needed winning to establish some kind of fresh start, a new momentum, something that was both tangible and symbolic in terms of QPR's attempt to touch base with the teams above the relegation zone. It was not to be.

Redknapp's disappointment was such he brushed off the warm welcome he received from the Loftus Road crowd. "It was nice for me but I am only interested in picking up some points. We need a win on the board somehow."

That looked a tall order when Villa, who started boldly, took an eighth-minute lead. Ashley Westwood helped the ball on to Brett Holman, who beat Rob Green with a firm drive. QPR responded, with Jamie Mackie flicking Samba Diakité's lofted cross into the top corner. Redknapp gave a thumbs up but still looked sufficiently concerned not to get too excited.

Shaun Wright-Phillips twice came close to securing the lead around the half-hour mark. The winger was released by a sublime, chipped pass from Esteben Granero but Guzan won the duel and diverted the danger with a fine save. Moments later, teed up by Stéphane Mbia, Wright-Phillips took aim again. This time he outwitted Guzan with a ferocious shot, struck early, but watched in disbelief as his effort came off the post.

Guzan was instrumental in maintaining Villa's position in the game after half time. When QPR enjoyed a period peppering his goal, he responded to deal with Ryan Nelsen's acrobatic shot, Diakité's speculative drive and a crack from Park Ji-sung. Paul Lambert enthused about a keeper he feels has "been brilliant all season". When Guzan was beaten by Clint Hill's header late on, QPR were demoralised to see the ball bounce off the crossbar.

Lambert was understandably satisfied to emerge unscathed. "This was a really tough game with Harry coming back and QPR fighting for every point. New manager syndrome normally kicks in but for us any point away from home is vital," he said.

Redknapp tried to take encouragement from his players' efforts but there was an element of resignation that things remain tough while the squad exists in its bloated yet imbalanced state. The former Tottenham and Portsmouth manager is still in the early phase of trying to forge a convincing team but knows he had to pick two veterans at centre-half, and makes no bones of the fact he wants a striker in January.

Djibril Cissé was left on the bench, with the "energy" of Mackie preferred, but QPR would clearly benefit from more options in the penalty area.

At least the two midfielders who left the pitch injured have only minor problems. That was particularly reassuring in the case of Mbia, who fell in obvious distress having collided with Gabriel Agbonlahor. After lengthy treatment, he was carried off wearing a neck brace and transferred straight to hospital for a scan. Diakité later limped off but Redknapp said later neither had suffered anything too serious.

As the crowd shuffled off, it was not quite the day they had been hoping for. So far QPR's brave new world does not look massively different from their gloomy old one.