Wigan are known for finding form in the spring but this narrow victory over Norwich, thanks to Arouna Kone's late goal, was more down to grit and patience than their usual fast-paced passing style that has seen them through in the past.
The Ivory Coast frontman got the winner in a game that looked destined to be a dull goalless draw as Wigan held off early pressure from Norwich to earn the three points that move them out of the bottom three, albeit only on goal difference.
It could be a defining moment in Wigan's season as they look set for another late-season surge. "It is not a day to highlight a player, every single player did a job," said manager Roberto Martinez. "I knew it would be a tricky fixture. We never have won a game after an international fixture. We had 13 players leaving, so we couldn't be our normal selves."
Callum McManaman, having seen the scandal surrounding his unpunished tackle on Magpies defender Massadio Haidara build, started but it was Norwich who had the better of the early exchanges.
Antolin Alcaraz, who missed six months through injury, impressed in defence for the hosts. In the second half, his powerful header was cleared off the line.
Wigan's never-say-die attitude has kept them up in the past seven seasons and it appeared in the final stages as Jordi Gomez fed Kone and the Ivory Coast striker beat Lee Camp at his near post.
Norwich have won just once since beating Wigan in December, and are only four points above the relegation zone.