New boss Dean Keates watched from the stands as Walsall suffered a convincing defeat by promotion-chasing Wigan.
Paul Cook’s Latics displayed their attacking intent from the outset, with Chey Dunkley heading a Max Power corner wide inside the opening two minutes.
The visitors went close from another Power corner on 11 minutes, Ryan Colclough collecting possession and standing up a far-post cross which Nick Powell, rising highest, headed over.
The Saddlers threatened sporadically, with Nicky Devlin sending an ambitious long-range effort wide and Erhun Oztumer seeing a left-footed shot deflected into the arms of Christian Walton.
Wigan went ahead just past the half-hour mark, Michael Jacobs arriving unmarked at the far post to fire Powell’s clever outside-of-the-boot cross under keeper Liam Roberts.
The Latics’ lead was doubled four minutes later as Jay Fulton rifled an unerring 20-yard strike into the bottom corner after a Power free-kick was only half-cleared.
Walsall’s night went from bad to worse as Cook’s men made it 3-0 five minutes before the break.
Power’s in-swinging corner wasn’t dealt with by Roberts and, after a scramble in the area, Dunkley bundled home from close range.
It was the Tics’ third goal of a devastating nine-minute spell.
The Saddlers began the second period positively, with sponsors’ man of the match Kieron Morris twice testing Walton from distance.
The hosts could have pulled one back when Oztumer played in Amadou Bakayoko with a cute through ball, but Walton was quick off his line to block at the striker’s feet.
Wigan almost added insult to injury with 20 minutes remaining but Colclough’s low drive from a tight angle was beaten away by Roberts.
Flo Cuvelier was introduced shortly after but the Saddlers never looked like staging a fightback as the Latics easily saw the game out for a comfortable win.
Team: L Roberts, Devlin, Guthrie, Fitzwater, Leahy, Morris, Chambers, Dobson (Cuvelier 70’), Kouhyar, Oztumer, Bakayoko.
Subs not used: Gillespie, K Roberts, Flanagan, Hayles-Docherty, Shaibu, Candlin.
Attendance: 4,477 (556 Wigan supporters).