Alex Ferguson will enjoy his 68th birthday today after the easiest win his Manchester United team are likely to have all season. Overawed by the reputation, as much as the quality of the opposition, Wigan hardly made a tackle all night, subsiding feebly to a morale-sapping defeat engineered by the player they sold to United, Antonio Valencia. The winger from Ecuador was the man of the match, his surging incursions and crosses from the right flank setting up three of the goals before he added the fifth himself.
Wayne Rooney delivered another masterclass as Wigan meekly surrendered to Manchester United for the second time this season.
Alex Ferguson has argued for years that if his side are within touching distance of top spot on New Year's Day they will take some stopping.
A flurry just beforehand had involved Chris Kirkland turning a Rooney blockbuster wide and Paul Scharner booting a Nemanja Vidic effort of the line.
Following that, Rooney's audacious shot from the most acute angle imaginable bounced back to Kirkland off the far post, the Wigan keeper having been completely bamboozled by the initial effort.
Finally, Dimitar Berbatov, who had started the bombardment by racing onto Rooney's through ball and getting chopped down in the box by Titus Bramble without winning a penalty, failed with a chip when he was clean through.
At that stage, there might have been a temptation for Wigan to think they would survive..
It will not cross Ferguson's attention that much but an entire nation of football watchers is following his main man at the moment, crossing their fingers he can deliver World Cup glory to England.
Undoubtedly he is having his best season and it was the former Everton striker who stole in at the near post to meet Rafael Da Silva's cross and steer it past Kirkland to break the deadlock.
Three minutes later Michael Carrick swept home the second after Valencia had shown enough vision to cut a pass back into his path rather than drill a cross into crowded penalty area.
Manchester United: Kuszczak, Rafael Da Silva, Brown, Vidic (Anderson 68'), Evra (Fabio 69'), Valencia, Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Berbatov (Wellbeck 68'), Rooney.
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland (Pollit 45'), Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Gomez, Thomas (Edman 71'), Cho, Scharner, N'Zogbia (Sinclair 68'), Rodallega.