Second-half goals from James Chester and substitute Scott Hogan gave Aston Villa a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship victory at the DW Stadium that pushes Wigan closer to relegation.
The hosts were being led for the first time by interim boss Graham Barrow, but were unable to improve on their miserable home form that contributed to Warren Joyce losing his job at the start of the week.
Wigan should have been ahead inside 15 minutes, but, after reading a short back pass from Mile Jedinak, Omar Bogle could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
Bogle and Gabriel Obertan fired wide as Wigan tried to find a way through, with Michael Jacobs at least finding the target from a 20-yard free-kick only for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to make a routine save.
Wigan were given a warning just before the break when Chester headed inches over from Conor Hourihane's pinpoint free-kick.
At the other end, Jacobs saw a long-range shot touched round the post by Johnstone, who then did even better to deny substitute Callum Connolly from close range.
Villa showed their resources by sending on Hogan and Henri Lansbury on the hour mark to try to tip the game in their favour.
Lansbury immediately showed his quality with a couple of superb inswinging corners that caused havoc, the first being headed over by Chester and the second flying through the six-yard box, begging to be forced over the line.
Wigan continued to press, with Shaun MacDonald seeing a shot blocked and Connolly seeing a header hacked off the line by a defender.
But Wigan were made to pay for their profligacy inside the last 20 minutes as Villa scored two goals without reply.
With 17 minutes to go, Hourihane's cross was spilled by goalkeeper Matt Gilks which allowed Chester to nod home from close range.
After Bogle had been denied an equaliser by the fingertips of Johnstone, Villa made the game safe when Albert Adomah crossed for Hogan to head home from close range.
Wigan interim boss Graham Barrow:
"The last few days have been a bit hectic and I woke up this morning with all sorts of things going through my head. But there was a satisfaction about the game for so long. Then it was the old sucker punch and we only have ourselves to blame, for the first goal especially.
"Why we switched off so much, I don't know. But I was encouraged by the fact we did work their goalkeeper, probably more than we've worked any goalkeeper. There was a lot to be encouraged by across the board. I've asked a lot from the players this week and they've almost produced, but not quite enough."
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce:
"They gave us a really tough game, that's how difficult the Championship is. They were really game. They've had a change of manager, change of formation, change of shape and they caused us a few problems.
"It's good to see us show a little bit of resilience. But, if we're being honest, we've got to be better than what we've been today. At least we stuck at it and we got a win, and that's what this league is all about."