City head for Villa Park on Sunday desperate to make amends for their 5-1 humiliation there two years ago.
That day, two goals each for Ashley Young and John Carew, coupled with Gabriel Agbonlahor's late strike helped to edge the visitors ever closer to the Premier League trapdoor.
This time around, Birmingham sit comfortably in ninth place in the table and have long since secured their top-flight berth for next season.
"We have come a long way since then, there is no doubt about that," McLeish told the Birmingham Mail. "Two years ago was a learning curve for us all and it was very clearly a team that was weak in terms of mental toughness and the quality and spirit and character.
"We went to Villa Park a bit too brave and maybe I should have played it a bit more cautious. Tactics are important as well in these games."