Derby will play far better than they did here and lose games during this campaign but they'll care little after nicking three points late on this time around.
Graeme Shinnie's volley deep into stoppage time secured a win the Rams scarcely deserved and denied Wigan a point they certainly would have felt worthy of claiming, the goal being the last of only three shots on target the hosts had all night.
The win will paper over many a crack which again showed as Derby struggled throughout to gain anything like a foothold on the game, a lack of quality going forward evident throughout until their summer signing produced his strike out of nowhere in the 92nd minute.
Wigan deserve credit for their display which saw them look more of an attacking threat throughout and soak up what attacks the Rams did manage to produce, Paul Cook's men entitled to feel hard done by.
But the Rams will ultimately take the points and run as they bounced back from Saturday's even worse display at Charlton and if nothing else, it gives them another platform to build on.
Tom Lawrence had the first opening, cutting inside before shooting low and seeing his effort parried away by David Marshall in the Wigan goal.
Chances were few and far between though early on despite the Rams having plenty of possession but doing precious little with it, Kieffer Moore having a pop from 25 yards for Wigan but his effort dipping far too high.
Gavin Massey chipped wide after dancing into the penalty area moments later, then curled past the post on the half-hour mark as Wigan proved to be creating the more likely openings.
Half-time arrived with very little to shout about.
Chris Martin arrived from the bench at the break and put a weak effort into Marshall's hands early on as the Rams came out with a bit more purpose, then Moore saw a half volley blocked well by Curtis Davies at the other end.
Joe Williams' powerful drive was fumbled by Kelle Roos, then Jamal Lowe was sent in on goal for the best chance of the game so far but side-footed his effort straight at Roos who held on.
Massey was next to have a go, cutting in and driving just wide of Roos's left-hand post, then the Rams broke through with Lawrence who again saw his 25-yarder pushed away by Marshall.
It took until eight minutes from time for another good chance to arrive, Lowe again with it for Wigan as he cut onto his left foot and saw a low shot saved by Roos's legs.
Sub Jack Marriott headed on goal from a corner with three minutes left and saw Martin divert the ball over the top, but the Rams' moment would come in the second minute of three added on.
Derby attacked down the left and when the ball eventually found its way to Shinnie, via Martin's lay-off, on the edge of the penalty area he lashed a volley into the top corner of the net to win the game.
21 Kelle Roos
4 Graeme Shinnie
5 Krystian Bielik
7 Jamie Paterson (Chris Martin 46)
9 Martyn Waghorn (Jack Marriott 67)
10 Tom Lawrence
16 Matt Clarke
23 Duane Holmes
33 Curtis Davies (c)
37 Jayden Bogle
46 Scott Malone (Max Lowe 79)
Subs not used: Hamer, Wisdom, Dowell, Knight
1 David Marshall
3 Antonee Robinson
4 Lewis McLeod
5 Sam Morsy
9 Jamal Lowe
11 Gavin Massey (Kal Naismith 89)
15 Dujon Sterling
16 Charlie Mulgrew (Cedric Kipre 63)
19 Kieffer Moore (Joe Garner 79)
20 Joe Williams
22 Chey Dunkley
Subs not used: Jones, Pilkington, Windass, Gelhardt
Ref: Keith Stroud
Derby: Shinnie 90+2