Former Hull boss Bruce was given plenty of food for thought about what needs to be done if he is to restore Villa as a force, with Wolves repeatedly threatening to stun Villa Park by snatching all three points.
Eager to atone for their poor start to the season, which resulted in the exit of Roberto Di Matteo, Villa were given a boost when Jonathan Kodjia converted a 15th-minute penalty.
But the early advantage was wiped out when Helder Costa equalised with a 34th-minute spot-kick for the visitors - their first penalty success in three attempts this season.
Villa Park has never been one of Wolves' happy hunting grounds but they almost made it a sour start for Bruce after carving out several good chances to take the win.
There was high expectation in the Villa camp following the arrival of Bruce.
With only one win in their opening 11 games - exactly the same record as last season when they were relegated from the Premier League - Villa were desperate to create a good impression but it was Wolves who made the early running.
Villa initially struggled to find any rhythm as Wolves were the more positive side, with Conor Coady involved in several good moves.
But the tide soon turned dramatically in Villa's favour. Ross McCormack cleverly put Jack Grealish in possession and as the talented youngster moved inside he was clipped from behind by Dominic Iorfa.
Referee David Coote had no hesitation in awarding a penalty which was converted with great deliberation by Jonathan Kodjia.
The goal invigorated Villa for a spell and in particular Grealish as he displayed his skill to good effect. Kodjia was livelier than usual as Villa strived to build upon their early advantage.
Wolves, however, kept their nerve with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson sending Costa racing clear only to be checked by James Chester to avert a dangerous situation.
There was no respite for Villa as Costa cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful shot which was blocked by the hands of Aly Cissokho to earn Wolves a penalty.
Costa, who had an impressive first half, guided his left-footed spot-kick well out of the reach of Pierluigi Gollini to give the on-loan player from Benfica his third goal of the season..
At the other end, Carl Ikeme produced a brilliant save when flinging himself to his right to keep out a powerful Kodjia shot.
The match tempo increased and there was an explosive incident when Coady was visibly upset by a Grealish tackle. He pushed Grealish aside and was himself manhandled by McCormack. Coady and McCormack received yellow cards.
In an eventful first half Ikeme redeemed himself for a poor clearance when Kodjia gained possession and fired in a shot which the Wolves goalkeeper had to pull out all the stops to prevent Villa regaining the lead.
But Villa slowly dropped in a familiar style as Wolves suddenly found a lot of room in which to manoeuvre.
Only a late tackle by Micah Richards prevented Bodvarsson from getting in a close-range shot as Villa's defence lost its assurance. Wolves had gained in confidence with the hard-running David Edwards involved in most of their attacking moves.
The pace of Costa exposed Villa's vulnerable defence and it took them a long time to re-group and to mount any serious attacks.
Wolves continued to be the more dangerous side as Villa went off the boil. Costa made way for Ivan Cavaleiro and he emerged to create a new threat which resulted in Villa sending on Alan Hutton to try and contain the stocky player.
It was Cavaleiro who should have sealed the game in the closing stages for Wolves when he was denied by a desperate save by Gollini.