United needed less than a minute to open the scoring at Old Trafford in the simplest of fashion, Rooney racing onto a long ball forward from Edwin Van der Sar before rifling the ball past Brad Friedel.
The league leaders were in total control and were unfortunate not to receive a penalty when Richard Dunne barrelled over Nani, and the Portuguese later brought a fine save out of Villa number one Friedel.
Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs were next to trouble the American, but he could not prevent United from doubling their lead in added time at the end of the first half, and it was Rooney again who was on hand to convert a Nani delivery into the box.
Darren Bent gave Villa a glimmer of hope just before the hour mark, but Nemanja Vidic soon restored the hosts’ two-goal cushion by beating Friedel with a curling effort.
Ashley Young curled an effort against the crossbar as Villa tried to respond, but a United victory never looked in doubt as Friedel ensured the visitors did not suffer a heavier defeat.