Manchester City drew 1-1 with Wigan at the DW Stadium despite playing 30 minutes with 10-men after Pablo Zabaleta was sent-off.
The Latics began brightly but City soon began to command the play but despite their superior possession it was Wigan who fashioned the better openings as Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia both went close.
Wigan took the lead in first-half stoppage time when Rodallega fired across goal and N'Zogbia, who had looked most likely to break the deadlock, caught Wayne Bridge asleep at the back post to slide home after Shay Given had parried.
City got back on level terms immediately after the restart when Martin Petrov, in for the injured Craig Bellamy, curled past Chris Kirkland but despite their numerical advantage for the last half an hour Wigan had to settle for a point.
City struggled to create chances in the first-half with Emmanuel Adebayor the only player to force Chris Kirkland into a save and Carlos Tevez did not react fast enough when Maynor Figueroa nudged a header into his path.
But there was a paucity of chances for the visitors that did not sit easily with the growing feeling they will be involved in the title shake-up.
In contrast, Wigan, limited as they were, always gave the impression of a side pushing themselves to the limit.
In Rodallega they had an obvious danger man and he brought an excellent save out of Given with a dipping 25-yard strike.
Still, a goalless opening period was drawing to a seemingly inevitable conclusion when Rodallega, set up by the industrious Jason Scotland, went for the far corner with an angled drive.
Given did well to keep it out. But the Republic of Ireland star, named skipper in the absence of Kolo Toure, could only push the ball into N'Zogbia's path.
That the former Newcastle man beat Wayne Bridge as he slid home in will do nothing to dispel the theory that England's second-choice full-back has been one of Hughes' big disappointments this term.
Chelsea have been beaten on this ground, while Manchester United recorded a five-goal win, so the result was not going to be a reliable guide to City's progress.
Nevertheless, having no doubt implored his side to do better, Hughes must have been delighted the Blues took just 65 seconds to level.
Not unusually, Tevez was the creator but Roberto Martinez will wonder why Mohamed Diame over-ran the Argentine's square ball from the touchline after Shaun Wright-Phillips had missed it.
Diame's error left Petrov with a clear sight of goal and he found the bottom corner with a precise shot.
The Blues should have been in front moments later, with Tevez again the architect, playing a superb ball through the Wigan defence for Adebayor.
Although Titus Bramble slid across to make a fine tackle, the loose ball rolled perfectly for Wright-Phillips, whose goalbound effort looped over off Adebayor, who was still on the floor.
City's increased threat and Wigan's desperation to get something from the contest brought an edge to the game, which Adebayor did not do much to quell with a cynical tackle he was fortunate to get away with after the game had already been stopped.
But with challenges flying in, there was a risking of someone's afternoon ending early. Zabaleta turned out to be the man, although his fury as Wiley produced red for a tackle on Scotland was not really matched by the reality, which was the full-back missing the ball completely as he lunged in.
Not that Figueroa would have had any defence either if Wiley had got a proper view of his penalty-box challenge on Wright-Phillips.
Wigan were more likely winners at the end. But Given was equal to Rodellaga's late volley, which seemed certain to end in the net, to preserve a point for the visitors.