A HORROR start for new-boy Ivan Ramis ensured Latics kicked-off their campaign on a losing note against the European champions.
The Spaniard, a £4million arrival from Real Mallorca, was handed his debut by Roberto Martinez.
But he could scarcely have got off to a worse start with Latics two down inside five minutes thanks to two of his blunders.
First, the new-boy was left for dead by Chelsea debutante Eden Hazard on halfway, with Branislav Ivanovic racing through a gaping hole in the home defence to open the scoring.
Then, from Chelsea’s second attack, Ramis jumped in on Hazard inside the box for a stonewall penalty that Frank Lampard smashed past Al Habsi.
In fairness to Ramis he did get better, and came up with some neat interceptions that prevented Chelsea from putting the game out of sight.
But Latics were unable to muster much in the way of a reponse, fellow new-boy Arouna Kone heading wide their best opportunity after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Victor Moses had been handed a start despite being heavily linked with the visitors for much of the summer, and he recovered from a disappointing start to threaten the visitors down the Wigan left.
Maynor Figueroa had started on the left-hand side of midfield in place of the injured Jean Beausejour, and how Latics missed the Chilean’s delivery from wide areas.
Ramis would have been looking for a solid start to his new life in England - but instead he suffered what could only be described as a catastrophic introduction.
After getting far too close to Hazard, Ramis was absolutely skinned by the tricky Belgian, whose through-ball allowed Ivanovic to finish emphatically past Ali Al Habsi on his near post.
Ramis then gave referee Mike Jones no choice after a poor challenge on Hazard, and Lampard again gave Al Habsi no chance.
There were echoes of Blackpool two years ago, when Latics were humbled in front of their own fans on the opening day.
And the blue shirts were struggling to get a kick as Chelsea enjoyed a period of sustained possession.
Figueroa showed Wigan’s frustration when he opted to try his luck from fully 35 yards, a shot that was going well wide before it was blocked.
Chelsea were nearly in again on the 15-minute mark when Fernando Torres ghosted past Antolin Alcaraz and was clearly bodychecked by the big Paraguayan.
The challenge was outside the area, but the official surprisingly point for a goal-kick with Torres left shaking his head on the deck.
Franco di Santo headed over from a good position, before Chelsea were handed a huge let-off when Petr Cech blatantly reached out of his area to pick up the ball, only to be allowed to play on.
Latics were at least starting to get to grips with Hazard, although it wasn’t always within the laws of the game.
Gary Caldwell’s crude challenge that brought about the game’s first booking would arguably have been better served happening before Hazard had helped his side to a two-goal lead, while James McCarthy was lucky to escape a similar fate after a second foul in quick sucession.
David Luiz joined Caldwell in the book for an equally poor challenge on the turning Shaun Maloney on halfway, before Wigan attempted to turn the screw before half-time.
Moses, who up to this point had been utterly anonymous, won a yard down the right before unleashing a snap-shot that Cech did well to turn round the post.
And Latics nearly found crucal response right on the whistle when Figueroa’s searching pass found Di Santo, whose first touch was a tad strong and his shot was parried by Cech and cleared.
Latics were forced into a change two minutes after the restart when Maloney was replaced by Jordi Gomez, having obviously failed to run off a knock he’d picked up in the first half.
And Moses was beginning to see more and more of the ball as Latics attempted to hit back.
Figueroa did well to intercept a Chelsea move and was clipped as he marauded forward, but the referee allowed a great advantage with the ball rolling towards Moses inside the box.
Unfortunately the shot was high and wide, and Di Santo too failed to hit the target from another decent shooting opportunity.
It was nearly game over just after the hour mark when Ryan Bertrand intelligently played through Torres, who advanced on Al Habsi before slipping the ball past the goalkeeper.
But Ramis never gave up the chase and got back in the nick of time to claw it off the line.
Then, at the other end, Moses’ cross looked like it had picked out Gomez on the far post only for Ivanovic to touch it behind for a corner.
That was the cue for Hazard to exit stage left, to be replaced by another new-boy, Oscar.
And Martinez responded by throwing on his own summer signing, Kone for Di Santo, with the best part of 25 minutes to impress.
Oscar was the first of the substitutes into the game, firing a shot just beyond Al Habsi’s far post.
But Latics came close to a goal of their own when Figueroa’s long diagonal cross was headed wide by Gomez.
The Spaniard was then fouled on the edge of the area, coming up with a tumble that Tom Daley would have been proud of, only to fire the set-piece straight at Cech.
Martinez made his last throw of the dice with 10 minutes remaining, the tiring McArthur giving way for Ben Watson, with Raul Meireles replacing Juan Mata for Chelsea moments later.
Latics came agonisingly close to pulling one back when Gomez’s corner was met powerfully at the near post by Kone, only for the ball to fly inches wide of the target.
And right at the death Kone’s shot was blocked by Cech into the path of Gomez, whose spectacular overhead kick flashed wide of an unguarded net.