Wigan Warriors 8 Hull KR 18: Oliver Gildart's double not enough in front of home fans
Gildart, playing his first game this year after recovering from a groin problem, scored two tries in four second-half minutes to reel in KR's 12-0 lead into 12-8 and hint of a dramatic fightback.
But those hopes were soon extinguished as Adam Quinlan's touchdown secured the Robins a deserved win, and condemned the Warriors to a second successive league defeat.
It may have been an improvement on their display in the 48-0 loss at Catalans - frankly, it couldn't have been much worse - but effort and half-chances were well outweighed by frustration as moves repeatedly broke down or were repelled.
With Liam Marshall joining Gildart in returning and Jackson Hastings operating at full-back for the first time, the supporters were hoping for a return to form for Adrian Lam's side - but instead, the coach has issues to address before they head to Wakefield in six days' time.
Wigan were greeted by a socially-distanced wall of noise when they walked out onto the new, lush pitch - their first home match in front of fans in more than 15 months.
Poignantly, they wore black armbands in memory of Dave Halsall, dad of their team-mate Sam who tragically died this week.
The early signs suggested it was going to be a tough slog for Wigan, who failed to take advantage of a handful of errors from the visitors, who showed little of the attacking potency that had posted 40 points in both of their last two games.
Yet despite the weight of possession, Wigan failed to register any points in the opening half - making it three halves they had not scored in.
With Joe Shorrocks, Liam Byrne and Ethan Havard adding some drive from the bench, they had no trouble earning good field position - but they lacked the finesse to break the deadlock.
A Gildart-Marshall attack broke down - both could be forgiven signs of rust - and Byrne and Sam Powell were both held up over the line by a resolute KR defence.
Three times, Wigan elected not to kick penalties within range and eventually, referee Robert Hicks lost patience with the tackle infringements and sinbinned George King.
Bizarrely, KR improved when down to 12 and after marching down field, Ben Crooks struck for the only try of the first half. The right winger collected a slick pass from Brad Takairangi and slipped past Marshall to touch down, before converting his own try.
The pattern continued into the second-half. There wasn't much wrong with Wigan's defence, with Sam Powell leading a strong unit on that front, but their attack lacked enterprise and execution, producing more spills than thrills.
On the hour mark, Ryan Hall - so often a thorn in Wigan's side over the years - collected a measured Mikey Lewis kick and muscled over, Crooks' conversion opening up a 12 point gap.
Wigan's last try had been in the 65th minute against Salford, courtesy of Brad Singleton. Exactly 160 minutes of play later, they posted their first touchdown as a powerful burst on the right by Bibby eventually led to Gildart squeezing over on his return to action.
That score swelled their confidence and they came straight back at the Robins, Smith kicking through for Marshall to collect before he fed Gildart for his second.
Smith missed both conversions, keeping a four point gap between the sides as the game inched into the final 10 minutes.
Kai Pearce-Paul showed what a handful he can be, but his error presented the visitors a chance to extinguish Wigan's fightback - which they took as Quinlan raced over with five minutes to go - and the returning fans left disappointed.
Wigan: Hastings; Bibby, Isa, Gildart, Marshall; Leuluai, Smith; Singleton, Powell, Bullock, Bateman, Farrell, Partington. Subs: Byrne, Havard, Shorrocks, Pearce-Paul.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Crooks, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Takairangi, Lewis; Maher, Parcell, Lawler, Johnson, Linnett, Hadley. Subs: Vete, Litten, King, Storton.
Referee: Robert Hicks