But at least second-half strikes from Jordi Gomez and Hugo Rodallega doubled their feeble total of goals scored as a home victory was finally secured.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, too, can take little comfort from a wretched game at the DW Stadium where their captain, Karl Henry, no stranger to controversy this season, again found himself in trouble with a 10th-minute red card that followed an horrendous challenge on Gomez that sent the little winger cart-wheeling in spectacular manner.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said: "I've got no argument with the tackle or the sending off. I shall speak to him about it but immediately after a game is not the time; we will keep that until Monday.
"It was ill-judged, mistimed and very theatrical. Karl has been in the media so much in recent weeks that it could never be anything else but a red card."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said: "I can't remember a worse challenge than that at this stadium but these things happen in football. It was very important to get the first home win because I could see anxiety among the players as well as the fans.
"The maturity of the players pleased me but we needed a bit of quality to open the scoring and that came with Jordi's free-kick.
"When he was tackled I had feared the worst and felt he might have broken his leg. After that we were not experienced enough to take advantage of the situation with the extra man."
Gomez, in fact, had the last laugh when he delivered a stunning 65th-minute free-kick to break the depression that enveloped a game in which neither goalkeeper had a shot to save in the opening 45 minutes.
Indeed, the only incident of note in that period was the indefensible misdemeanour by Henry who earlier this season found himself involved in the incident that saw Fulham's Bobby Zamora break a leg as well as a game-long spat with Newcastle's equally fiery Joey Barton.
Now this latest brush with authority will lead to an automatic three-match suspension as Wolves attempt to fight their way out of trouble early in a season when their only victory came on the opening day and in which they have obtained just one point from four away encounters.
Wigan monopolised throughout but the inability to exploit the advantage of an extra man left them firing blanks and all they had to show were off-target attempts by Maynor Figueroa and Rodallega.
Charles N'Zogbia was equally frustrated when no-one followed up his excellent low cross from the left, while Franco Di Santo saw a further effort deflected.
Di Santo was even more profligate on the resumption when his closing shot was cleared off the line by Kevin Foley following the most effective and penetrative move of the match which saw Rodallega cross from the right.
What followed was a continuation of Wigan dominance, although shots from James McCarthy and Gomez were straight at Marcus Hahnemann.
However, the Wolves goalkeeper never saw the free-kick from Gomez, awarded when Dave Edwards fouled N'Zogbia, and he was equally stranded when Rodallega, despite Christophe Berra's attempted interception, delivered on 85 minutes to confirm overall home superiority.