Paul Scholes celebrated another landmark in his glittering career by scoring the opening goal as Manchester United coasted to a resounding victory over Wigan at Old Trafford.
The 37-year-old, making his 700th appearance for United, tapped in from close range six minutes into the second half, to inspire a victory that lifts his side into second place in the Premier League table, a point behind leaders Chelsea.
United recovered from seeing Javier Hernandez have a controversial fifth-minute penalty saved by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi by striking three times in 15 second half-minutes to decide the contest.
Hernandez turned in debutant Alex Buttner's low cross to make it two, before the Dutchman himself beat Al Habsi too easily from a narrow angle. Substitute Nick Powell, also making his debut, completed the rout with a thunderous 20-yard shot.
But for long periods United were well below their best, especially during a first half which Wigan finished the more convincingly. But as the visitors' exhaustive pressing game began to run out of steam, Sir Alex Ferguson's side moved through the gears to make sure of the points and then had the luxury of giving Robin van Persie a 20 minute run-out ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match against Galatasaray.
Scholes was at the heart of United's revival, pulling the strings with his laser-guided passing and well-oiled repetoire of feints and flicks. There was more than one reminder that his tackling remains more than a little wild, but as he trudged off to a standing ovation 20 minutes from time, it was only his goal that United fans could remember.
The result aside, this was a landmark day for United, as records tumbled and statistic after statistic spilled off the team-sheets - Scholes was making his 700th appearance in a United shirt and Rio Ferdinand his 400th, while Ryan Giggs took to the field for his 600th Premier League match.
It was also Ferguson's 500th home league match - he had won 355 of the previous 499 (drawing 95 and losing 49).
None of it made pretty reading for Wigan, whose had lost all seven of their Premier League matches at Old Trafford, conceding 24 goals and with just a lone stoppage time penalty in 2006 to show for their efforts. And yet somehow there was hope.
Ferguson admitted in his pre-match programme notes that defeat by "little Wigan" had ultimately cost United the title last season. And until Scholes broke the deadlock five minutes in the second half, "little Wigan" were threatening to do it all over again, as they tackled, battled, and denied their more celebrated opponents space.
United might have been ahead as early as the fifth minute, when Al Habsi was controversially adjudged to have made contact with Danny Welbeck in the penalty area. Justice was perhaps done when the Wigan goalkeeper went to down to his left to deny Hernandez from the resulting penalty.
It was Welbeck who had the best of United's chances during a fragmented and frustrating first half, in which United were neither effective or entertaining, with Welbeck creating and spurning a series of opportunities.