A four-try blitz in a 12-minute second-half window ensured Wigan’s 100 per cent start to the Super League season continued.
After an edgy opening, winger Dom Manfredi again claimed the spotlight, as Warriors’ 20-month unbeaten run home run in Super League lived on, and they claimed a fifth win from five opening games for the first time since 2000.
The game hadn’t even got underway when the twists had been pushed into the plot, with Shaun Wane having to re-shuffle his team when George Williams strained his back in the warm-up.
Captain Sean O’Loughlin moved to stand-off, bumping Greg Burke up from the bench to loose forward and handing Nick Gregson the chance to come on for his debut.
Opinion was split on social media over the quality of the game, with some arguing mis-timed passes and sloppy tackling denied it classic status - but as a spectacle, there could be no doubt as to its entertainment value.
Along with the natural rivalry between the sides providing a strong undercurrent, the tense first half provided a big game feel, with each surge to the line accompanied by an almost nostalgic wave of noise from the crowd.
In the battle for territory, the home side spent most of the match camped deep in the Rhinos half, but were the odd finishing touch short of pulling away on the scoreboard.
The first roar of the night was for Liam Farrell as he crashed over in the 11th minute, but the effort was chalked-off by video referee Richard Silverwood who ruled Dan Sarginson had obstructed Kallum Watkins - which also divided opinion on the Twittersphere.
But after another effort was ruled-out for a forward pass to Josh Charnley from Sarginson, John Bateman finally got the scoreboard ticking over - though he will owe Manfredi a drink for the opportunity.
The solid winger collected a kick deep in his own half, and pinballed off five defenders in an incredible dash for the line, with Zak Hardaker requiring two efforts to bring him down.
Inches from the line, there was nothing the scattered Rhinos defence could do to prevent Bateman crashing over for the sole first half try.
As the temperature dropped for the start of the second half, the nervy nature of the game continued until Oliver Gildart’s try on 56 minutes sparked a ruthless onslaught of four tries in 12 minutes.
Reminiscent of watching a 90s Wigan side dismantle their opposition, complete with retro-inspired kit, Warriors suddenly found their killer instinct.
Bateman’s nifty pass sent Ryan Sutton on a break to lay the platform for Gildart’s try, before Manfredi crossed for a deserved effort on the back of some basketball style passing between Taulima Tautai and Anthony Gelling.
This prompted Leeds to try a short kick-off, which worked, only for Wigan’s defence to hold firm.
And the home side responded by sending Tony Clubb over in the 66th minute before Gelling sealed the win two minutes later.
Gregson came off the bench to make his debut with 10 minutes to go, and there were a couple more blown chances.
With 46 seconds to Hardaker grabbed a consolation for the champions, which will have hurt Warriors boss Wane as his side were on course to be the first to nil Leeds in Super League since 1998.
Wigan: Dan Sarginson; Josh Charnley, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Dom Manfredi; Sean O’Loughlin, Matty Smith; Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, John Bateman, Liam Farrell; Greg Burke
Subs: Lee Mossop, Taulima Tautai, Ryan Sutton, Nick Gregson
Zak Hardaker; Ash Handley, Kallum Watkins, Jimmy Keinhorst, Ryan Hall; Liam Sutcliffe, Jordan Lilley; Keith Galloway, Rob Burrow, Adam Cuthbertson, Mitch Achurch, Brett Ferres; Brad Singleton
Subs: Beau Falloon, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Mitch Garbutt, Anthony Mullally
Tries: Bateman, Gildart, Manfredi, Clubb, Gelling
Goals: Smith 4