Steve Bruce salutes Wigan Athletic - past and present
The 61-year-old, who enjoyed two spells in charge at Wigan under Dave Whelan, admitted his side put in their worst performance of the campaign in the 1-1 draw at the DW.
However, he gave Latics credit for making life difficult for their opponents - especially on the back of Saturday's 5-1 thumping by Burnley.
"We knew Wigan would have a backlash from the weekend, and I have to say 'well done' to them," he said.
"They showed a great reaction to where they were at the weekend, and we found it difficult.
"They were determined, aggressive, put it forward, and asked a few questions of us."
When asked whether he thought his old club had enough about them to be competitive throughout the season, he added: "The way they competed, absolutely.
"They've retained the spirit they had last year, they're a handful when they play like they did tonight, they go back to front.
"If they play like that, I'm sure they stand a good chance."
Bruce also reminisced about being back at the club he believes provided him with his best ever side as a manager.
"I had a great time here, over two spells," he said.
"I had a great chairman, a great owner, who built this fantastic stadium...you don't get too many of them...a great man.
"This was his life and his joy, and he was a fantastic man to work for.
"For that, I'll always remember and I'll always be grateful.
"And I had some team and all, by the way...arguably the best team I've ever had...until bloody Man United, and Tottenham, and all the rest of them came and bought them all...the b******s!
"It was some team...with (Antonio) Valencia, (Wilson) Palacios, (Emile) Heskey, (Hugo) Rodallega, (Paul) Scharner, (Chris) Kirkland...such a good side."
Bruce’s first spell at Wigan came at the end of the 2000-02 campaign, before he was headhunted by Crystal Palace.
He was lured back from Birmingham in November 2007 – for a world record compensation figure (£3million) for a manager.
After steering Latics to a 11th-placed finish in 2008-09 – having been European challengers in January before crucial player sales - he moved on to Sunderland.