Shaun Wane’s dream of bowing out with a Wembley appearance is over as Wigan crashed out of the Challenge Cup at the quarter-final stage at Warrington.
The Warriors were also hoping to send Sam Tomkins out on the highest of highs, but a below-par display across the board saw them deservedly beaten by a rampant Wolves outfit.
Most of the damage was done during a one-sided first half where Wigan struggled to put anything together in attack.
Former Wigan starlet Kevin Brown opened the scoring on 12 minutes and, after much pressure, the defence cracked again on 32 minutes when Ben Murdoch-Masila barged his way over.
The game-breaking score arrived seconds before the interval when great hands right saw another ex-Warrior, Josh Charnley, dive over in the right-hand corner, with a second conversion from Harvey Livett pushing the interval lead out to 16-0.
It went from bad to worse in the second stanza when Thomas Leuluai was sin-binned for a cannonball tackle on the hour mark.
But the Warriors defence at least held firm during his absence, although they couldn’t muster anything at the other end of the field.
A penalty from Bryson Goodwin and a drop-goal from Tyrone Roberts edged Warrington even further ahead inside the last 10 minutes, before Dec Patton rubbed salt into gaping Wigan wounds by crossing as the full-time hooter was sounding.
And the visitors can have few complaints having been outplayed, outfought, outmuscled and, eventually, outclassed by a pumped-up Wire outfit.
The gulf between the sides at the end was in stark contrast to the opening exchanges, with Wigan starting well and pinning their opponents back with some good early kicks.
A couple of blatantly forward passes helped to give Wire good field position, but Tom Lineham was helped over the touchline by some strong defence as he tried to force his way over.
However, the visiting defence had no answer to the skills of England stand-off Brown, who dummied his way through the cover to open the scoring.
Wire were almost in again just before the midway point in the first half, when Roberts kicked towards the sticks and Willie Isa appeared to ease Brown off the ball as he attempted to touch down.
Referee Robert Hicks went upstairs to the video ref, who surprisingly failed to even award Warrington a penalty.
Wigan’s first attack in a while led to Sam Powell narrowly failing to ground the ball as he reached for the line.
But back came Warrington and quick hands found Goodwin, only for fabulous defence from John Bateman to stop him dead in his tracks.
From their next attack, Wire kicked towards the right flank and, despite the ball appearing to be too far in front of Goodwin, the centre flicked back acrobatically from over the dead-ball line, and Wigan were indebted to Oliver Gildart for mopping up the danger.
Wigan were increasingly playing second fiddle, which was in evidence as Tomkins elected to throw a very risky long ball on his own line to Liam Marshall, who broke the first tackle and almost made halfway before being dragged down by Stefan Ratchford.
Warrington were gradually winning the arm-wrestle, though, and two tries in the space of eight minutes before half-time effectively settled the encounter.
First, after Warrington forced the drop out, Murdoch-Masila crashed over through two would-be tacklers to the delight of the home supporters.
Then, with seconds to go before the hooter, Warrington were in again, with Charnley this time touching down just inside the corner flag after a great passing move along the line.
Two conversions by Livett extended the interval advantage to 16-0, but credit the Warriors for starting the second period on the offensive.
Sean O’Loughlin found George Williams, whose short ball to Liam Farrell almost brought about a try, only for a great tackle by Murdoch-Masila to keep the second row at bay.
Wigan’s cause wasn’t helped when they lost prop Ryan Sutton just before the hour mark with a left-knee problem, which didn’t look good as he was escorted off by a couple of Warriors staff.
Things went from bad to worse when Leuluai was sin-binned for a ‘cannonball’ tackle which temporarily brought players from both sides into the fray before tempers calmed.
Wigan managed to hold out during the time they were a man down, but time was on Warrington’s side as the game entered the last 10 minutes.
If a Goodwin penalty with six minutes to go made Wigan’s task nigh on impossible, Roberts’ drop goal from the restart put them put of their misery.
And as the full-time hooter was sounding, Warrington were walking through another gap in the line, this time resulting in a try for Patton, to give the scoreline a more accurate look.