LATICS suffered a huge blow on the eve of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with a shock home defeat at the hands of struggling Millwall.
Uwe Rosler made eight changes to his starting line-up in an attempt to freshen up his weary side.
But the result was a below-par display across the board, with Latics struggling to find any kind of continuity in attack.
Shaun Maloney’s welcome return after six months out was the overwhelming plus of a disappointing night all round.
The Scotland international lasted the full 90 minutes to put himself in contention for a Wembley appearance against Arsenal.
But too few of his colleagues will have given their manager any positive food for thought ahead of the weekend.
The only goal came midway through the first half, Carlos Edwards being allowed to advance to the edge of the home box before shooting for goal.
His shot took a wicked deflection off Leon Barnett, the ball looping over a helpless Carson and into the Wigan net.
The effort was there from Latics, but not even the second-half introduction of Marc-Antoine Fortune, James McArthur and Nick Powell could tip the balance back their way.
Jack Collison came close to an equaliser after the break, but his curling effort drifted just wide of the far post.
And the Lions almost doubled their advantage right at the death when Carson did brilliantly to deal with Scott Malone’s drive and then Steve Morison’s goalbound follow-up.
Having made so many changes, it was perhaps inevitable that Latics would find it difficult to find their feet in the opening exchanges.
In desperate need of points themselves at the wrong end of the table, Millwall came flying out of the blocks.
Lee Martin raced right through the middle only to be tripped by James McClean on the edge of the Wigan box.
The Millwall man wanted a penalty having tumbled into the area, but referee Keith Hill rightly ruled that the contact was outside.
Martin lined up the free-kick himself, but it was straight at the wall.
At the other end, former Lions loanee Martyn Waghorn appeared to have been fouled in a dangerous area, but no free-kick was forthcoming.
Martin was soon in the action again, his cross from the left finding Martyn Woolford, whose weak header was easily saved by Carson.
But the visitors were growing in confidence, and they took the lead midway through the first half.
Edwards carried the ball from halfway to the edge of the Wigan box, and Carson was left with no chance of saving the shot once it had deflected off Barnett.
Another promising break from Millwall saw Martin curl a shot just over the bar, which was the signal for Latics to buck up their ideas and show themselves for the first time.
McClean curled an effort over the top, before Waghorn headed wide and Nicky Maynard twice failed to hit the target.
Wigan’s frustration was summed up at a break in play while Millwall goalkeeper David Forde received treatment, when no fewer than eight players were called over to the technical area to receive instructions from Rosler.
Latics were nearly in trouble again when a clever inside ball got Malone in behind Waghorn, and it needed a timely touch by Rob Kiernan to avert the danger.
The home side nearly gave themselves a lifeline just before the interval when a free-kick half was only half-cleared to Collison on the edge of the area.
The return shot was hard and true but well saved by the legs of Forde.
Latics made two changes at the interval, Fortune and McArthur for McEachran and Maynard.
And Fortune immediately put himself about and at least gave the Millwall rearguard something to think about.
The newcomers were soon joined by Powell, who took over from McClean, and the on-loan Manchester United man quickly had a shot deflected over the bar.
A sublime bit of footwork from Maloney opened the door for Powell once again, but this time the shot was way over the top.
Latics went closer still when a beautiful move released the galloping Beausejour down the left wing.
The Chilean’s pull-back was perfect and found Collison, but the Wales international’s shot curled inches past the far post.
Millwall almost killed the game when Carson had to make a superb double save to deny Malone and Morison, the second effort right on the line.
But Latics were unable to make the most of their let-off, with Maloney’s cross in stoppage-time being volleyed straight at Forde by skipper Emmerson Boyce.
Latics: Carson; Boyce, Barnett, Kiernan, Beausejour; McEachran, Collison, Maloney; Waghorn, McClean, Maynard.
Subs: Nicholls, Caldwell, Rogne, McArthur (for McEachran, 46), McManaman, Powell (for, 62), Fortune (for Maynard, 46).
Millwall: Forde; Dunne, Beevers, Upson, Malone; Garvan, Bailey, Woolford, Martin, Edwards; Maierhofer.
Subs: Bywater, Robinson, Morison (for Maierhofer, 67), Fredericks (for Edwards, 45), Williams (for Upson, 66), Jackson, McDonald.
Referee: Keith Hill
Star Man: Shaun Maloney