WIGAN Athletic absolutely dismantled Colchester United with a real five-star performance to send out a strong message to the rest of League One.
Boss Gary Caldwell had demanded a ‘two-per-cent improvement’ across the board from his side, who had drawn each of their last four league matches.
He got that - and some - with a breathtaking performance that had the U’s team chasing shadows for the duration.
Goals from Donervon Daniels (2), Max Power and Will Grigg had Latics four up with barely half an hour gone.
And £1million man Grigg added the icing to the cake with Wigan’s fifth goal three minutes from time.
The result moves Latics up to eighth in the table, seven points behind leaders Gillingham, who somehow lost to this Colchester side only last month.
That fact only emphasises the damage Latics can do to this league when they hit their straps on a more consistent basis.
Caldwell’s men’s problems this term have usually stemmed from failing to making the most of their dominance in games, and falling behind against the run of play.
Thankfully, that was never going to be an issue this time, with the shell-shocked visitors praying for full-time as early as the 14th minute.
By then they were three goals behind, and interested only in a damage-limitation exercise.
With Grigg taking over from Jordy Hiwula - the only change from the draw at Bury last week - Latics tore into their opponents from the off.
Yanic Wildschut was seeing plenty of the ball down the left, and clearly had the beating of the Colchester right-back every time he saw the ball.
It was from one run and cross from the Dutchman that Latics opened the scoring, visiting goalkeeper Jamie Jones touching the ball into the path of Daniels, who couldn’t miss from close range.
Goal number two arrived six minutes later, when Power’s shot from distance took a wicked deflection of a defender and looped agonisingly over the goalkeeper’s outstretched fingers and into the top corner.
And it was effectively game over inside the opening 15 minutes when Grigg pulled the ball back for Daniels to slot home under the body of Jones.
Rather than sit back and put the cue in the rack, Latics continued to press for more goals.
Wildschut again got down the line and pulled it back to Power, who fired just over the top.
Grigg wasn’t so profligate just after the half-hour mark, when he was given time and space to pick his spot from 10 yards.
Colchester took until eight minutes before half-time to force any kind of effort on goal.
But Callum Harriott couldn’t cook up anything tasty from the edge of the area, and Jussi Jaaskelainen made a routine stop.
There was time for Michael Jacobs to twice come close to making it five before the interval, only to let the visitors off the hook.
First, Grigg’s cross from the left rolled inches in front of the former Wolves man as he tried desperately to get on the end of it.
Then, seconds later, Jacobs produced an overhead kick from 10 yards that was turned round the post by the goalkeeper.
Wigan’s superiority was underlined by the strength of their bench during the interval, with the likes of Hiwula, Grant Holt, Craig Davies, Tim Chow and Francisco Junior all desperate to get the chance to fill their boots.
Latics picked up where they left off after the break, Wildschut and Jacobs playing with the defence before the latter eventually got in a shot that was easily saved.
The attacking pair duly gave way to Junior and Holt, with the Latics management taking the opportunity to rest them with the game won and bigger challenges on the horizon.
Within seconds of his introduction, Holt headed a Reece James cross straight at the goalkeeper when either side might have brought his first Wigan goal in 26 months.
Colchester saved their best - and only - real chance for last, a decent move finding ex-Bolton man Marvin Sordell inside the box.
But the striker’s powerful shot served only to warm the hands of Jaaskelainen, to the dismay of their suffering 292 supporters behind the goal.
Holt was afforded a gilt-edged opportunity to mark his first league appearance at the DW since Boxing Day 2013 with a goal.
However, after being sent through one-on-one through the left channel, the substitute could only slot the ball wide of the far post.
With Colchester waiting to be put out of their misery, Grigg showed him how it’s done in the closing stages with a majestic finish from the opposite side, to give the scoreline a far more realistic look.
Latics: Jaaskelainen 6; Barnett 6, Morgan 6, McCann 7; Daniels 9, Power 7, Perkins 7, James 7; Jacobs 7, Wildschut 7; Grigg 8.
Subs: O’Donnell, Love (for Daniels, 77), Chow, Junior (for Jacobs, 61), Davies, Holt (for Wildschut, 67), Hiwula.
Colchester: Jones; Olefumi, Kent, Eastman, Briggs; Gilbey, Harriott, Sembie-Ferris, Edwards; Porter, Sordell.
Subs: Parish, Elokobi, Moncur (for Porter, 65), Szmodics, Bonne, Lapslie (for Edwards, 76), Ambrose (for Sambie-Ferris, 65).
Star Man: Donervon Daniels