But then 36-year-old Phillips replaced the injured Christian Benitez and struck twice in six minutes to leave the visitors in the bottom three.
It was rough justice for Wolves, who had been a match for Blues for lengthy periods with Doyle a constant threat to the normally solid Blues rearguard.
But Birmingham's battling spirit again surfaced, with midfielder Barry Ferguson driving them on before Phillips' decisive contribution.
There was a minute of applause before the game in memory of former Blues player and manager Gil Merrick, who died earlier in the week aged 88 and rival goalkeepers Joe Hart and Marcus Hahnemann laid wreaths in the two goalmouths.
The home side were the first to settle and a superb pass from Ferguson picked out the run of Lee Bowyer. However, the former England midfielder - who scored the winner in the match between the sides at Molineux earlier in the season - was denied a shooting opportunity by a fine tackle from Ronald Zubar.
Wolves midfielder Michael Mancienne blocked a close-range header from Cameron Jerome after Liam Ridgewell had turned James McFadden's corner back across goal.
Blues forced six corners in the first 15 minutes and, from one of them by Sebastian Larsson, Hahnemann blocked a close-range attempt by Jerome after the ball had bounced back across goal off Benitez.
Hart became the first player to be booked after 25 minutes for bringing down Doyle after the goalkeeper came racing out of his area.
Wolves came more into the game and made use of their extra man in midfield via a 4-5-1 formation - and Zubar wasted a great chance to put them in front after 32 minutes.
A free-kick from the left flank by Matt Jarvis found its way to the unmarked Zubar at the far post - but he sent his header back across goal when he should have at least tested Hart.
Jerome had a third opportunity when a dummy by Benitez allowed him a run at goal but Hahnemann was able to block the low shot with his feet.
Scott Dann was only a couple of feet wide with a low shot on the turn after Hahnemann only half punched clear Larsson's corner.
Kevin Foley volleyed straight at Hart from eight yards out before Doyle put Wolves ahead with his sixth goal of the campaign.
There was an element of good fortune as Jarvis' low centre hit Roger Johnson, ricocheted onto a post and fell perfectly for the striker to convert the rebound - but it was no more than the visitors deserved after overcoming a sticky start.
Wolves continued to look the more impressive and composed and Jarvis had a shot blocked after Mick McCarthy's side had failed to cash in on a three versus two numerical advantage on the counter-attack.
Doyle was making life uncomfortable for Johnson and shot into the side-netting after more good play.
Blues boss Alex McLeish made his first substitution after 63 minutes with Phillips replacing Benitez, who was injured in a challenge by Hahnemann and eventually carried off on a stretcher.
Doyle continued to give the City defence headaches and Dann was booked for a challenge on the Republic of Ireland international.
Wolves newcomer Adlene Guedioura came on for Jones after 67 minutes and a minute later the ineffective Larsson made way for Blues' January capture Craig Gardner. McLeish made his final change after 74 minutes with Keith Fahey replacing McFadden.
Hart got his body behind a shot from Foley and Guedioura was only a couple of feet too high with a 25-yard drive.
Jerome had a shot deflected wide as Blues tried to salvage a point - and then Phillips dramatically turned the game on its head.
With 10 minutes remaining he levelled from close range after Gardner had turned a Fahey centre back across goal.
And Phillips won it in the 85th minute when he chested down Stephen Carr's cross and beat Hahnemann with an angled drive into the corner of the net.