Having fully recovered from an injury sustained in pre-season, the midfielder made his first start for the club since the final day of last season and appeared to have helped his team battle to a positive result at Villa Park.
Yet despite Palace leading with as many as 87 minutes on the clock, a succession of late Villa goals – the second following a controversially awarded penalty kick, and the third on the counter-attack in injury-time – left Palace empty-handed for their efforts.
Despite an improve second-half display, which arguably warranted at least one point if not all three, the Eagles were condemned to a second defeat of the season.
Hughes told Palace TV: “There’s a mix of emotions, I think. The talking point is obviously the penalty, but if you look at the bigger picture…