It was a home debut to remember for Uwe Rosler and a Derby Day to remember for Callum McManaman as he netted what proved to be the winning goal in an epic 3-2 encounter at the DW Stadium.
Ben Watson gave Latics the lead from the penalty spot after just 11 minutes, with Nick Powell doubling it with an outrageous overhead kick on 24.
Visitors Bolton Wanderers fought back gallantly after half time and they soon pulled level through Neil Danns and a penalty of their own converted by Andre Moritz.
As the game became end-to-end, McManaman stepped up to the cries from the boisterous Latics crowd as he hit home the game's winning goal, but with just over 20 minutes remaining it made for a tense and nervous finish, with Latics holding on.
Uwe Rosler's first match in charge at the DW saw him make four changes from the team that faced NK Maribor on Thursday evening, with Grant Holt, Emmerson Boyce, Ben Watson and Ivan Ramis returning to the starting line up.
Since the appointment of Rosler as manager the anticipation had been building in the run up to this game as supporters filled Twitter feeds and Facebook walls alike with their messages of support, and just 11 minutes into a feisty encounter they got their wish of an opening goal.
It was a forceful start from the home side as McManaman offered his services out wide on the right, but it proved to be a cross from Ben Watson that would give Latics their vital opportunity.
He clipped the ball into the area from the right towards Grant Holt at the back post, and as the forward headed towards goal the ball ricocheted off the hand of the challenging Matt Mills.
Referee Kevin Friend deliberated on his decision much to the dismay of Bolton's players and supporters as he eventually pointed to the spot.
Watson stepped up coolly and with a swift right boot he fired Latics 1-0 up.
The pressure continued and if at first you don't succeed with a long range effort, you try, try again with an acrobatic bicycle kick, or so the saying goes for Nick Powell who doubled Latics' advantage.
His attempt came about in slightly fortuitous circumstances as Chris McCann's dragged effort inside the area deflected up off a Bolton defender and into the air for Powell to adjust his body, leap and curl an overhead kick into the top right corner, leaving Andy Lonergan stranded.
With the DW rocking there was still work to be done and Leon Barnett led by example as he kept switched on to clear a header off the line heading into half time.
After the break things became a little sticky for Rosler's men and just four minutes into the second half Neil Danns stole in to make it 2-1.
Latics failed to clear multiple high balls into the area and as Andre Moritz clipped the ball across the box, time seemingly stood still as Danns waited inside the six yard box to nod the ball over the line.
A double change was made soon after the goal as Stephen Crainey and James McClean were introduced in place of Holt and Jean Beausejour.
Bolton's confidence visibly grew and after Danns clipped the top of the bar with a flicked header, the away side soon found themselves with the prospect of an equaliser as Kevin Friend awarded the second penalty of the afternoon for a high foot from Emmerson Boyce on Chung-Yong Lee.
The dangerous Brazilian Moritz converted his spot kick expertly to level and send Bolton's supporters into a frenzy just past the hour mark.
Such was the end-to-end nature of the game, a minute later Latics fans were claiming a penalty of their own as McClean's cross deflected behind for a corner.
With the momentum firmly there for the taking, Powell headed agonisingly wide from a McManaman cross, giving Latics that extra edge.
A moment later and the DW Stadium erupted as McManaman swept the ball between bodies and into the back of the net for what turned out to be the crucial goal.
The scoreboard read 68 minutes, meaning Latics still had to remain strong to keep out battling Bolton as the thrills and spills of the afternoon continued.
Chances for both sides filled the DW with desperate cries and cheers, Powell headed inches wide for Latics and Joe Mason couldn't get enough purchase on his effort right in front of goal from a low Moritz cross.
Scott Carson then twice held out Bolton, as he tipped a Moritz drive wide of the post and then blocked substitute Jermaine Beckford's desperate effort wide for a corner.
The corner count mounted and so did the clearances as Latics saw out a long five minutes of added time to secure a well fought 3-2 win.
Full time brought about a chorus of cheers from the supporters in the stands, with Crainey and McArthur addressing the East Stand with pumping fists as they showed their appreciation for what was a tremendous atmosphere on Derby Day.