Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor inspired Aston Villa to a 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Wigan.
Agbonlahor scored his fourth league goal of the campaign to break the deadlock before the break and created the second for Darren Bent.
Only a series of fine saves by Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi prevented Villa - still unbeaten in the league this season - from winning by a more emphatic margin.
Villa boss Alex McLeish had called for his side's creative players to step up to the mark - and they answered his call.
Agbonlahor, in particular, was back to his best and demonstrated the form which earned him his breakthrough at England level.
Bent also looked sharp after his injury lay-off, midfielder Barry Bannan always threatened to unlock the Wigan defence and Stephen Warnock impressed at left-back.
Wigan only threatened after the introduction of former Villa midfielder Shaun Maloney in the final quarter of the game and have now suffered four successive league defeats.
Villa were the first to threaten with Agbonlahor making a powerful run but his eventual shot was deflected into the hands of Al Habsi.
A deep ball into the Wigan box from Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov was headed by Bent into the path of the lively Agbonlahor but he was unable to keep his shot down.
Bent seized on a mistake by Mohamed Diame and teed up Stephen Ireland whose shot was deflected wide in a promising start by the home side.
Wigan skipper Gary Caldwell became the first player to be booked after 19 minutes after appearing to catch Agbonlahor with an below.
Bent connected with the resulting free-kick from Bannan but he could not keep his header down.
Bent was looking sharp and it needed a fine save from Al Habsi to keep Villa on level terms.
Bannan's pass over the Wigan defence was chested down by Bent, but Al Habsi blocked his powerful close range volley.
Good play by Agbonlahor allowed Ireland a free run at the Wigan area but he scooped his shot over the bar.
It came as no surprise when the impressive Agbonlahor put Villa ahead after 36 minutes.
Warnock won possession and found Bannan whose ball over the top was seized on by Agbonlahor.
He turned inside Caldwell before lashing a powerful shot past Al Habsi from 15 yards.
Wigan tried to retaliate and a mistake by Fabian Delph almost gifted them an equaliser. Victor Moses was able to free Franco Di Santo whose low cross-shot flashed inches wide of the far post.
Agbonlahor began the second half in the same vein as the first and almost doubled Villa's lead within 60 seconds.
A mazy run took Agbonlahor past Boyce, Watson and James McCarthy and his curling shot beat the dive of Al Habsi but flew inches wide.
Villa were in command and it needed a desperate block from Caldwell to keep out Bent's low shot after Delph had created the opening.
Wigan had claims for a penalty rejected after a challenge by Alan Hutton on Di Santo.
But Villa were soon back on the offensive and Al Habsi produced another excellent save to keep out Bannan's curling 20-yard drive at full stretch.
Agbonlahor was a constant menace and after 62 minutes he created the second goal for Bent.
He made a 50-yard run down the left flank before sending over an inviting centre which Bent side-footed past Al Habsi into the corner of the net.
Al Habsi made another excellent save to fingertip Petrov's fierce drive around the post.
Villa keeper Shay Given was called into meaningful action for the first time in making a double save to deny substitute Shaun Maloney and Di Santo.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.