Proud Shaun Wane pointed to the “million pound” of talent missing from the wounded Warriors team beaten by Warrington.
Dom Manfredi scored a hat-trick but Wigan went down 28-16 in front of more than 17,000 fans.
They ultimately gave themselves too much to do after a poor first half in which they trailed 22-4.
Wane conceded Warrington were good value for the win though he felt his side could have snatched victory during their rousing fightback.
He said: “We didn’t start well, we were a little soft early on, but we had a million pound (of their £1.85m salary cap) training in the gym this morning.
“So given the situation we’re in, the effort was great.
“I thought we could have sneaked it, there were periods in the second-half when there were some really poor calls from the officials, but the game was in the balance.”
The result saw Warrington move two points clear of Wigan at the top of the Super League table.
Warriors’ task in the second-half wasn’t helped by a hamstring injury to captain Sean O’Loughlin, which prompted Nick Gregson to move to stand-off.
Teenager Jack Higginson made his debut at centre for Wigan.
“He did okay,” said Wane. “That edge was soft at times, but he will be better for that experience, and I’ll pick him again.”
Higginson, though, may have to wait for another opportunity as Wane prepares to welcome back some reinforcements ahead of their next game, at Wakefield a week on Sunday.
Ben Flower and John Bateman will both be available and others are nearing full-fitness.
“We were dumb at times but I’m still happy,” added Wane. “In the next three or four weeks, we’ll have a few back, so we’re in good shape.
“It’s a positive dressing room.”
Counterpart Tony Smith labelled Warrington’s first-half display as “electric” and was particularly impressed with Sandow’s contribution before limping off.
Smith said: “Some of what Chrissy did was exceptional - top drawer.”
Ben Currie, Tom Lineham, Kevin Penny and Stefan Ratchford scored their first-half tries.
The last of those scores was a rare ‘eight point try’ after Liam Farrell - earlier sinbinned - slid in with his knees as Ratchford crossed.
Ryan Atkins swelled the Wolves’ advantage early after the restart but Wigan finished with a flourish, Manfredi crossing twice to add to his first-half try.
Josh Charnley - switching codes with Sale Sharks in October - kicked two goals.