A LATE goal from City striker Carlos Tevez denied Wigan a share of the spoils from a game they dominated and should have won.
In a dress-rehearsal of next month’s FA Cup final, Latics gained the ascendancy following a quiet start and created numerous opportunities to take the lead.
Franco di Santo forced a magnificent save from Joe Hart, Shaun Maloney saw a shot hacked off the line by Joleon Lescott and Arouna Kone was foiled only by a stunning block from Vincent Kompany.
But City rode their luck, and snatched the points at the death when Tevez found the top corner inside the last 10 minutes with Joel Robles unable to keep it out.
The result leaves Latics three points from safety in the Premier League, still with a game in hand.
But if they can maintain this performance level for the rest of the campaign - and rediscover the killer touch in front of goal - they will surely have enough to get out of trouble.
Roberto Martinez had made a couple of changes to his line-up, Robles restored between the sticks and Di Santo taking over from Callum McManaman in attack.
And the Argentine was quickly into the game, holding the ball up well despite pressure from City skipper Kompany.
City had the first sight of goal on seven minutes, Aleksandar Kolorov floating a free-kick just wide of the near post from 20 yards.
Sergio Aguero then drifted past two defenders only for his cross to fall beyond everyone in the middle.
At the other end, Di Santo got clear down the left but his pull-back couldn’t find Kone
And that was about it for the first half-hour that was desperately short in tempo and quality - not surprising considering both sides had been on FA Cup semi-final duty at the weekend.
Thankfully, things picked up and Latics almost edged in front.
Jean Beausejour’s cross towards Kone was cut out by Kompany at full stretch, the ball deflecting over the bar with Hart happy to see it do so.
A quick free-kick from Shaun Maloney then found Kone unmarked, but the striker miskicked from 12 yards out
Wigan then cut open the champions with embarrasing ease, with Kone and Maloney feeding Di Santo, who was only denied by a fabulous save from the England goalkeeper.
With Wigan still wondering how they weren’t in front, City broke and Micah Richards’ cross narrowly failed to find Aguero.
A misunderstanding between Kompany and Hart then saw Kone nip in, but the Belgian won the ball back for City.
As half-time approached, Di Santo won the ball off Kompany again and supplied Maloney, who fired uncharacteristically well over the crossbar.
The second half started in the same vein, with Maloney freeing himself down the left and biding his time, his shot beating Hart only to be cleared off the line by Lescott.
Maloney then skipped past Richards again, and his cross nearly deceived Hart at the near post.
A brilliant move involving Maloney and Di Santo saw Kone receive the ball 10 yards out, but the Ivorian’s shot was blocked by Kompany at full stretch.
Kompany then did ever so well to prevent Jordi Gomez finding Kone as Latics continued to threaten.
City’s frustrations were summed up by Tevez dragging a shot horribly wide, before the home side threw on James Milner for the ineffective Javi Garcia.
Callum McManaman took over from Di Santo as Martinez tried to freshen things up, and still the visitors continued to ask the questions.
A Beausejour cross once more required the intervention of Kompany, before McManaman cut in off the right wing only to produce a tame left-footed effort.
It was all Latics at this point, but they were given a warning when Yaya Toure played in Edin Dzeko - a half-time replacement for Aguero - only to be denied by a wonderful save from Robles.
Latics squandered a decent opportunity when Maynor Figueroa embarked on a 60-yard run only to fail to find Beausejour.
And they fell behind to the classic sucker punch with eight minutes remaining.
Tevez skipped past a couple of would-be tacklers before curling a majestic shot past the outstretched fingertips of Robles and into the top corner.
In truth, it was a goal fit to win any game.
But had Latics made the most of their countless opportunities, it would have been too little, too late to matter.