Saturday saw Ireland deliver the perfect response to manager Alex McLeish's demand for him to make headlines on the field after making more waves off it over Christmas.
Days earlier, Ireland's girlfriend posted a photograph of the 25-year-old smoking a Shisha pipe on Twitter, something that clearly irked McLeish.
But that did not stop the Scot recalling the controversial midfielder on Saturday, a decision that paid off spectacularly as Villa won at Stamford Bridge for the first time in almost a decade.
Ireland delivered a man-of-the-match display, scoring his first goal for the midlanders and first for more than two years, as well as setting up their game-clinching third in a 3-1 victory.
Despite struggling to make an impact at Villa Park since his £8million move from Manchester City, Ireland never lost the confidence of his team-mates, according to captain Petrov.
"A lot of people have given up on Ireland but we haven't," said Petrov, who scored Villa's second goal on Saturday.
"We can see him every day in training, what kind of player he is, and he came in under a lot of pressure and put in a very fine performance."
McLeish challenged Ireland to reproduce that standard in every game, warning he could be soon out of the side again if not.
"I can't say to players, 'I'll give you five games', if we're going to get beaten in those five games," McLeish said.
"We need instant performances from my players."
McLeish certainly got that on Saturday in what was undoubtedly Villa's best display of the season - and probably much longer.
Gabriel Agbonlahor ran John Terry ragged at times, with Charles N'Zogbia looking more like a £10million player, and Petrov, Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark also to the fore.
Petrov said: "I think the last three games have been our best three performances of the season.
"We look stronger as a team, we work very hard for each other and we are looking very well balanced.
"The manager told us to be patient and organised at Chelsea. We knew what their midfielders could do and we managed to match this.
"Agbonlahor, N'Zogbia and Ireland going forward created a lot of trouble for the Chelsea defence.
"We sensed Chelsea were beatable.
"After the Fulham draw, their fans were not happy and we knew if we scored, it would be even harder for them.
"It is a big team and Chelsea want their fans to win every game but that doesn't always happen."
McLeish refused to rub salt into Chelsea's wounds, choosing instead to lavish praise on his players.
Victory also eased pressure on the Scot, who has not been universally popular among Villa fans due to his Birmingham connections and stodgy start since defecting from their arch-rivals.
Having celebrated Saturday's win by seeing in 2012 with a class of champagne at home with his wife, McLeish challenged his players to beat Swansea on Monday for what would be Villa's first home win in almost two months.
"The Swansea game is even more important now," McLeish said.
"We have to win a home game now in front of our own supporters."
McLeish vowed to do everything in his power to ensure Petrov was fit after his skipper limped off at Stamford Bridge following his goal.
"We'll wrap Stan in cotton wool, get him in the ice baths," McLeish said of the 32-year-old.
"He's tight everywhere - sore ankles, tight muscles.
"Stan's not in his twenties any more, but the amount of work he goes through in games is quite phenomenal."