The first chance of the game came to Javier Hernandez, after Danny Welbeck appeared to be brought down in the penalty area by Latics goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, although replays showed that there was very little contact. Al-Habsi soon made up for his mistake in coming for the ball, however, by saving Hernandez's weak penalty.
The rest of the first half was a scrappy affair, with the lively Welbeck going the closest with a pair of near misses, first half-volleying a shot just wide of the Wigan goal, and secondly by directing a header just over the bar. After a game that was frequently disrupted by fouls, both sides went in at half-time level.
Both teams came out for the second half unchanged, but United didn't need any substitutions in order to take the lead. Five minutes after the restart, Paul Scholes smashed them into the lead, getting on the rebound of Nani's shot to score in his 700th appearance.
Wigan offered little throughout the game, failing to create any clear chances on the break and spending most of the second half, as in the first, camped inside their own half. It was no surprise when Manchester United doubled their advantage shortly afterwards, Javier Hernandez getting on the end of Alexander Buttner's cross to turn the ball into the net after being foolishly played on by Emerson Boyce.
The game then took on the manner of a procession, as United continued to pen Wigan inside their own area. Alexander Buttner was the surprise third scorer, dribbling down the left flank and beating three Wigan players - albeit whilst losing the ball several times on the way - and somehow squeezing a shot inside Ali Al-Habsi's near-post from a remarkably acute angle.
Nick Powell received his debut for Manchester United, coming on with Robin Van Persie to replace veteran duo Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, and the former Crewe man didn't have to wait long for his first United goal, running from deep to pick up the ball on the edge of the area before dummying past Gary Caldwell and firing in a sublime finish to seal the victory.
Roberto Martinez will have seen anything gained at all here as a bonus, but his team offered very little and all in all, it was an accomplished victory for United, despite the poor opening half. It will also be a victory that Sir Alex Ferguson will be pleased they were able to achieve without necessitating the introduction of some of their key players - Shinji Kagawa, Robin Van Persie, and Antonio Valencia, all started on the bench. United face Galatasaray in midweek before travelling to fierce rivals Liverpool at the weekend, and they will now be able to do so having kept their key performers fresh.