Latics remain rooted in the bottom three of the Championship as they lacked a cutting edge in the home defeat to play-off contenders Sheffield Wednesday.
In a dour Friday night game in front of the Sky TV cameras the Owls went ahead with a Ross Wallace deflected goal just before half-time.
Latics created the best chances overall with Sam Morsy and James Weir going close and Callum Connolly having a goal disallowed for a debatable offside decision.
The Owls were far from convincing but the narrow win was enough to seal the three points and move them into sixth place in the table.
Warren Joyce surprisingly named an unchanged starting eleven with four new signings, Omar Bogle, James Weir, Jamie Hanson and Matt Gilks on the substitutes bench.
With the departure of winger Yanic Wildschut to Norwich City on deadline day it was hoped that new strikers Bogle or Mikael Mandron might get a start alongside Will Grigg, but Joyce preferred to pack his team with midfielders and rely on lone-striker Grigg.
In a scrappy first half neither team created many chances and just when it looked like the teams would go into the interval level the Owls went ahead somewhat fortuitously.
Wallace picked up a flick from £10m striker Jordan Rhodes following a long ball from Vincent Sasso, and his shot was deflected off Jake Buxton’s outstretched leg and spun over the head of keeper Jakob Haugaard.
Latics started the second half briskly and Man of the Match Sam Morsy went close in the 49th minute. The Eqyptian midfielder drove forward into the box evading several challenges before firing from close range but Westwood saved bravely.
The increasingly isolated Grigg should have done better when he received the ball in the box in the 57th minute, but his touch let him down.
Soon afterwards Dan Burn had a good opportunity when he met Max Power’s cross but his header failed to trouble Westwood.
Bogle and Weir made their debuts with 25 minutes remaining in place of Grigg and David Perkins. Weir in particular having a positive effect on the midfield.
Latics were then unlucky to have a goal chalked off for a debatable offside decision.
Connolly was played through by Max Power and rounded Westwood to finish, but the linesman flagged for offside although the young full-back appeared to be level with a defender.
Weir then had a great opportunity when he met an enticing cross from Michael Jacobs but his header from inside the box flew just over the crossbar.
The Owls were offering little going forward and Latics were looking the most likely to score but time was running out.
In six minutes of added time, keeper Haugaard came up for a corner which resulted in a goalmouth scramble but the Owls managed to clear and then in the dying seconds Jacobs fired across the six-yard box and Burn was unable to stretch to make the vital contact.
Post-match Warren Joyce blamed Latics’ ‘composure in both boxes’, but the manger should also take some responsibility for his team selection.
Joyce had gone for just one lone striker in a line-up packed with midfielders. Will Grigg had a thankless task running the line and also tracking back under his manager’s instruction.
New striker Omar Bogle got a late debut but this was to replace Grigg and not to play alongside him.
Latics are the lowest scorers in the Championship and the manager must surely adopt a more attacking line-up, particularly in home games, if they are to escape the drop.