The Baggies continued their concerning trait of conceding first in games this season as the newly-promoted hosts led early following a Semi Ajayi error on a cold and uninspiring night.
Josh Magennis finished well for the Latics before Albion worryingly lost Ajayi to injury as the defender pulled up unopposed.
Steve Bruce - visiting the side he managed across two spells - saw his side accept a gift to level midway through the first period as Karlan Grant finished superbly from a loose Tom Naylor pass.
A poor second half brought little in terms of chances in a contest lacking in quality. Wigan battled relentlessly and were a tough nut the visitors failed to crack as unimpressed travelling Baggies fans were once more starved of an away victory.
Bruce made a rare change to his starting XI this season as right-back Darnell Furlong dropped out of the side to be replaced by Kyle Bartley. Furlong had a place on the bench.
Skipper Dara O'Shea shuffled across to right-back and Bartley took his natural role in the heart of the defence.
The other changes to the Albion squad were the surprise return to the bench for forgotten man Kenneth Zohore, who had recently been struggling with injury, and had been told he was free to leave the club.
Matty Phillips missed out due to illness at Huddersfield but returned to the bench, but there was no place for Callum Robinson.
Leam Richardson's League One title winners of last season included former Baggies winger James McClean in their ranks and the Irish international was keen to let his opposite numbers he was there as the hosts were bright early on.
Bruce was looking for a bright start from his side tonight but he got the exact opposite as the Latics led after just six minutes.
It was a terrible goal to concede from an Albion perspective. As a long, high, bouncing ball parted the visitors' backline with Magennis interested.
Ajayi had a headstart on the Northern Ireland international forward but never looked convincing by the flight on the ball. The defender went to clear but was bullied by the powerful Wigan frontman, who eased Ajayi away like men against boys.
Magennis still had work to do but lashed a low finish under the advancing David Button as Albion early woes continued.
The Latics were purring so much so that captain Max Power attempted a strike from just inside the visitors' half, which Button was able to claim after back-peddling.
Albion and Ajayi's problems mounted as, on 20 minutes, the defender pulled up with what appeared a muscle injury with no Wigan player around him.
The Nigerian attempted to continue but Furlong was introduced as O'Shea shifted back into the middle.
What appeared an uneasy evening on paper for Albion was rescued somewhat thanks to a moment out of nothing snatched up and finished expertly by Grant.
Latics man Naylor played a blind, hospital pass backwards picked up by the striker on the edge of the centre circle.
He had little on and much to do but shifted the ball to the right of a defender outside the box and sent a fine low finish across Ben Amos into the bottom corner for a fourth goal of the season.
It was a get out of jail for Albion.
A scrappy remainder of the first period passed with little incident on an evening where Wigan were happy to run hard without the ball.
Grady Diangana had been quiet but swept in a low finish on the stroke of half-time, but the offside flag was long since raised.
Bruce's men were much brighter after the interval and carved out a decent chance inside 10 minutes but Conor Townsend shanked wide from Furlong's cross.
McClean might have stung his former club with a back-post diving header had it not been for diligent tracking back by Furlong.
Swift delivered a dangerous free-kick from Albion's left that begged for a flicked header from Grant but the striker got his effort all wrong and it flew behind into the 1,200 travelling fans.
Bruce introduced Phillips for the busy Jayson Molumby in an attacking switch with 15 minutes left but Albion struggled to seriously trouble a resolute and discipline Latics backline as unimpressed Albion fans watched on a night that won't live long in the memory.
Wigan Athletic (3-4-2-1): Amos; Kerr, Whatmough, Tilt; Nyambe, Naylor (Aasgaard, 78), Shinnie, McClean; Power, Keane (Wyke, 71); Magennis (Broadhead, 72).
Subs not used: Jones, Pearce, Humphrys, Fletcher.
Albion (4-2-3-1): Button; O’Shea, Bartley, Ajayi (Furlong, 20), Townsend; Molumby (Phillips, 78), Yokuslu (Livermore, 60); Wallace, Swift, Diangana; Grant.
Subs not used: Palmer, Reach, Gardner-Hickman, Zohore.
Attendance: 10,526 (1,233 Albion fans)
Referee: Andy Woolmer