Wigan produced the ideal response to last week's 9-1 thrashing by Tottenham as Hugo Rodallega's solitary goal was enough to beat Sunderland.
Former Latics boss Steve Bruce's return to the DW Stadium was an unhappy one as the striker he signed 10 months ago inflicted a fifth away defeat of the campaign.
The Black Cats barely threatened throughout and after Wigan's Jason Scotland hit the post in the first half Rodallega's sixth Barclays Premier League goal of the season decided the contest.
Wigan are now unbeaten in their last five home matches while the Black Cats have won just one of their last 17 away league games.
Manager Roberto Martinez had shown his ruthless side in his team selection, with left-back Erik Edman dropped from the squad completely after his horror show against Aaron Lennon at White Hart Lane.
And his players, watched by chairman Dave Whelan - who had flown in from Barbados after previously criticising Bruce for making "dodgy signings" which contributed to the Spurs defeat - seemed to respond to the Spaniard's call for commitment.
They had two early half-chances inside the opening eight minutes, Rodallega diverting Charles N'Zogbia's cross into the side-netting and Paul Scharner shooting low at goalkeeper Marton Fulop.
However, up against a striker of the calibre of the in-form Darren Bent, scorer of nine goals this season, they could not afford to switch off.
Emmerson Boyce produced a perfectly-judged tackle to deny the England international just as he looked certain to score past goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
Mid-way through the half Wigan were unlucky not to take the lead when N'Zogbia dispossessed Paulo da Silva on the right of the penalty area and crossed for Scotland to hit a first-time shot which beat Fulop but rebounded back off the post.
Turner was booked on the half-hour for going through the back of Scharner and the Black Cats centre-back's blushes were then spared by Fulop.
The goalkeeper produced a brilliant fingertip save to turn his team-mate's header from Rodallega's inswinging free-kick around the upright.
George McCarthy was next to almost score an own goal as he thrashed Rodallega's centre over the crossbar.
Bruce replaced midfielder Steed Malbranque with striker Fraizer Campbell at half-time and the substitution appeared to have the desired effect.
Five minutes after the restart Andy Reid's shot clipped Hendry Thomas to dip just over the crossbar and from the corner Bardsley's ambitious long-range effort was also deflected wide.
Bent had a chance to put his side ahead in the 54th minute from Reid's hanging ball to the far post but he headed back across goal and outside the post.
Martinez immediately replaced Scotland with Jordi Gomez, pushing Rodallega into a central position.
The Spanish midfielder's 62nd-minute cross almost created the opening goal when he picked out Titus Bramble but he headed straight at Fulop.
As the pressure increased on Wigan their play, somewhat understandably considering recent events, became more erratic.
Rodallega forced a low save from Fulop after Scharner lifted the ball over the defence and then fired wide from N'Zogbia's lay-off.
Campbell's mis-kick inside the six-yard area from Reid's cross let Wigan off the hook.
And the Black Cats were made to pay in the 76th minute when Scharner's ball forward put Rodallega up against Da Silva.
The Paraguay international made a mess of his challenge, falling to the floor, and the Wigan striker skipped past him to roll a left-footed shot past Fulop from a tight angle and into the far corner.
Rodallega should have made the game safe in the 83rd minute but side-footed straight at the Sunderland keeper.
There were some more frantic exchanges late on but Wigan held on through four minutes of added time to record their first clean sheet since September 12.
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