Wigan adds misery to Aston Villa woes
The visitors, meanwhile, moved out of the bottom three with a conclusive victory to record their first win in seven matches which highlighted Villa's dramatic shortcomings.
Villa, watched by club owner Randy Lerner, never recovered from a disastrous start when Ivan Ramis gave the Latics a morale-boosting lead after only three minutes.
Two goals in the space of four minutes early in the second half from Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone sealed Villa's fate as their confidence visibly evaporated.
In the continued absence of such players as Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia and Nathan Baker, the options open to under-pressure manager Paul Lambert are very limited as illustrated in this latest defeat.
Just how much a lightweight Villa are missing the commanding presence of Dunne was highlighted as early as the third minute when Wigan took a shock lead.
Villa's inability to defend set-pieces was blatantly exposed in the third minute after the ball ran out for a corner as Matthew Lowton appeared to handle.
Jean Beausejour's accurate corner was perfectly placed for the unmarked Ivan Ramis to mark his return to action after missing six games with a powerful header past the transfixed Brad Guzan.
It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a steep hill to climb.
Penalty decisions have gone against Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.
Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa were again on the wrong foot.
Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.
Christian Benteke was extremely subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock solid.
Pulling the strings for the visitors was Shaun Maloney. The Scottish international formerly played for Villa but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick, before joining Wigan last year.
Benteke finally found a route through Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.
After Emmerson Boyce and Maloney were booked for reckless tackles Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the crossbar with an angled shot.
All these efforts in search of an equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan consolidated their lead.
Boyce raced through despite the attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.
In the 56th minute Kone himself got in on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Di Santo as he sliced his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle despite a challenge from Guzan.
Villa made a triple substitution sending on El Ahmadi, Bowery and Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Lichaj.
The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.
The Associated Press was used in thsi report.