Substitute Anthony Pilkington’s second-half strike was enough to seal all three points - after a moment to forget for visiting goalkeeper Lee Camp.
It looked as though it was going to be a frustrating night for Latics, as both sides struggled to create meaningful chances throughout.
But things changed with the second-half introduction of Pilkington - who made his first appearance since the opening day victory against Cardiff - and it took just eight minutes for him to make a decisive impact from the substitutes bench; seeing his long-range effort squirm under a hapless Camp on the 76-minute mark.
Pilkington’s goal sealed a much-needed win for Latics after suffering defeat to Fulham on Friday night, extending their impressive home record under Paul Cook in the process.
Another returning name took the eye prior to the game, as Josh Windass made his first start for Latics since suffering an injury during the second game of the season.
It didn’t take long for Windass to have an impact on the game, either; with the forward contributing to Kieffer Moore forcing a smart block from Harlee Dean in the opening exchanges, before testing Lee Camp himself with a low effort on the ten-minute mark.
Birmingham had their moments on the counter-attack, though, and went perilously close to taking the lead ten minutes from the interval, when Lukas Jutkiewicz just failed to latch on to a ball from close range after a set-piece.
Everything productive for Latics was coming through Windass, and he produced Latics’ best chance of the half on 40 minutes; when stinging the hands of Camp from the edge of the area after bursting down the right – a save which ensured the game was goalless at the interval.
It proved to be a frustrating opening quarter of an hour to the second half for Latics, though, as they dominated the possession, but struggled to carve out meaningful opportunities
Windass was again looking the most likely to create something; seeing an appeal for a penalty turned down in the early exchanges, before looking unfortunate not to latch onto the ball at the near post after Jamal Lowe’s low ball from the left of the area.
The game was in danger of fizzling out, though, and Paul Cook soon took action, first introducing Joe Garner for the tireless Kieffer Moore on the hour mark - but it was the introduction of the returning Anthony Pilkington eight minutes later which changed the game.
Latics were beginning to look as though they were running out of ideas, but Pilkington made the difference just eight minutes after coming on; trying his luck from range and seeing his fierce effort dip underneath goalkeeper Camp – who really should have done better – before squirming into the back of the net.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was emphatic, and the visitors were shell-shocked.
The closing stages weren’t without their nervous moments, though, and Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was dangerous throughout, sent pulses racing when heading wide three minutes from time.
But Latics saw the game out, and will head to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday on the back of picking up three crucial points.
Latics (4-2-3-1): Marshall, Byrne, Mulgrew, Dunkley, Robinson; Williams, Morsy; Massey, Lowe, Windass; Moore.
Subs: Jones, Fox, Pilkington (for Lowe 68), Evans (for Massey 87), Garner (for Moore 61), Naismith, Geldhart.
Birmingham (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Dean, Clarke-Salter, Pedersen; Crowley, Gardner, Sunjic, Villalba; Jutkiewicz, Gimenez.
Subs: Stockdale, Harding, Mrabti (for Crowley 66), Bellingham (for Clarke-Salter 83), Davis, Bailey (for Villalba 71), Bajrami.
Star Man: Anthony Pilkington
Attendance: 9,244 (1,215 away)