Shaun Wane has swatted away talk Warrington are out-of-sorts as he prepares for tomorrow’s Grand Final rematch.
The Wolves are bottom of the embryonic Super League table, the only club of 12 yet to claim a competition point.
A 24-14 defeat at Salford last weekend followed previous league defeats to in-form Castleford and Catalans, who sandwich Wigan at the top of the ladder.
Wane, though, points to their sterling performance in their World Club Series triumph – when they stunned Brisbane Broncos 27-18 – as evidence it will be “a real battle”.
He said: “They’re in a false position. They could easily have won the game at Salford if they had taken their chances, and they were terrific in the win against Brisbane – they showed how good they can be that night.
“So I don’t look at them being at the bottom, it’s too soon to start looking at the table. There are 20-odd rounds yet and it can be so different at the end of the year.
“They’re a good team, they’re on their own ground, and we need to make sure we start tough and match their aggression.
“We’re expecting a real battle.”
Wigan and Warrington met four times last year, each winning two, with Wane’s men winning the biggest of the fixtures at Old Trafford in October.
“We’ll not even talk about that,” said Wane. “It was great to get the win, but we could easily have lost that game 12-6.”
Injuries have eaten into both squads, prompting Wane to hand debuts to Liam Forsyth and Romain Navarrete, in addition to sticking with Liam Marshall - who made his bow a week ago - and handing academy forward Jack Wells another crack.
Forsyth is back at the club after a brief spell in rugby union with Bath, where he played for their reserves.
“It took him time to turn up on time and with the right kit - it’s a different culture at Bath than here,” said Wane.
“So after costing him a fortune in fine, he’s back in the groove and he knows what we’re about, and he’s a good player.
“He’s quick, he’s got good skills, he’s naturally a centre but played loads of wing as well, so I’m excited to see how he goes.”
Joe Bretherton and Tom Davies are expected to drop out of Wigan’s 19-man squad.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Bretherton, Clubb, Davies, Escaré, Farrell, Flower, Forsyth, Gelling, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Navarette, Nuuausala, O’Loughlin, Powell, Tautai, Tomkins, Wells, Williams.
Warrington’s 19-man squad: Atkins, Blythe, Brown, Clark, Cooper, Dwyer, Evans, Gidley, Hughes, Johnson, Lineham, Livett, Patton, Philbin, Russell, Savelio, Sims, Westerman, Westwood.
Referee is Ben Thaler.