For all his impressive performances this season, which has seen him linked with a move to the Premier League, Adama Traore truly failed to pull it off when it mattered most for his side.
Villa captain John Terry told Sky Sports: "It's unbelievable and incredible".
Yet again, like the first leg, Traore let his team-mates down with a poor final ball which saw his attempts either go out for a goal kick or hit the first Villa man after such promising dribbles.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough's Daniel Ayala came off in the second half on Saturday with a knee injury and misses out, so Tony Pulis has opted to start the young Dael Fry in defence in his stead.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cardiff were promoted automatically from the League Championship.
As a team, Villa made 29 total clearances against Boro, with James Chester contributing the most with seven.
Bruce is now just one game away from a fifth promotion as manager to the Premier League, having also taken Birmingham and Hull up via the playoffs. Middlesbrough, however, could still make it an uncomfortable occasion for the locals at Villa Park.
The ramifications for Villa if they fail to achieve promotion do not bear thinking about but, for now, they are focusing on the chance to end their two-year exile from the top tier.
Boro boss Pulis know that there's a tricky challenge facing his side tonight, but isn't refusing to give up hope of making a comeback; "Villa are in the ascendency in the tie, we've got to go to Villa Park in front of a full house so that gives them the advantage".
Aston Villa players celebrate a win.