Wigan Athletic 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
Wigan Athletic gave Owen Coyle a stark reality check on his first return to the DW Stadium since leaving three years ago, as his Blackburn outfit were well beaten by a rampant home side.
Right from the first minute, Latics were on their game against their north-west neighbours who, but for a 15-minute spell at the start of the second half, barely got a kick of the ball.
While there was an element of fortune about Wigan’s opener on 14 minutes, when Max Power’s mis-hit shot flew straight into the path of Will Grigg, the finish from the Northern Ireland international was masterful.
The second goal from Nick Powell, just after the half-hour mark, was even better, with his 25-yard free-kick flying into the corner of the net past a helpless Jason Steele.
And although Rovers rallied at the start of the second period - after a verbal bashing from their manager at half-time - the game was put to bed on 63 minutes when Power’s cross was bundled into his own net by Rovers defender Shane Duffy.
The only downside from a Latics point of view would have been a failure to score even more goals that their performance undoubtedly merited.
But boss Gary Caldwell - who was club captain during Coyle’s tenure but failed to make a single appearance due to injury - will gladly take the three points that get them up and running on their return to the second tier.
Latics could and perhaps should have been out of sight before they did take the lead through Grigg inside 15 minutes.
Alex Gilbey somehow slotted wide from close range on three minutes after great work from Yanic Wildschut, who thought he was in on goal moments later only for Gordon Greer to save the day with a timely intervention.
Grigg then fired wide of the mark, but made amends when he was in the right place at the right time to convert Power’s inadvertent assist.
It was nearly 2-0 when Gilbey’s shot was parried out by Jason Steele to Wildschut, who could only flick against the bar from point-blank range, and the goalkeeper did well to snaffle another effort from Grigg.
Powell’s moment of magic did double the lead on 33 minutes, although the half-time lead was more precarious than it ought to have been.
That fragility was underlined after the restart when the visitors, to their credit, gave it a real go and came desperately close to making the game even more interesting.
Jack Byrne’s speculative curling shot beat Adam Bogdan only to hit the bar, while Latics were indebted to Dan Burn for throwing himself in the way of a rocket from Duffy.
Anthony Stokes might have done better with a free header from the resulting corner, and the visitors were made to pay for their profligacy when Latics killed off the game just before the three-quarter mark.
Again there was a touch of fortune about it, with substitute Michael Jacobs unable to get a touch to Power’s right-wing cross, only to turn and see Duffy help it over the line in complete slapstick fashion.
There was no way back for Rovers by this point, and both Power and Jacobs came close to adding a fourth goal in the final quarter that would not have flattered Latics in the slightest.