Chris Wilder admitted Sheffield United took time to get into their stride before showing their class in a 3-0 Sky Bet Championship victory at Wigan.
Wigan gave as good as they got for the first half-hour so, and should have led only for Lee Evans to squander a gilt-edged opportunity from bang in front of goal.
David McGoldrick put the Blades ahead five minutes before half-time, and goals from Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp within nine minutes of the restart made the game safe.
"I was pleased with the second half, not so much the first half," admitted Wilder.
"It was a pretty slow start and I thought we were a bit fortunate to go in at half-time 1-0 up.
"They obviously missed a great chance that maybe affected them a little bit. Then we get the goal and we don't look back.
"What Wigan are going through now, when things aren't going for you, is similar to what went through last year.
"You're just looking for something to give you a lift, but thankfully for us it didn't come today."
Wilder made only one enforced change from the win over Blackburn but revealed he had given his team selection a great deal of thought at the end of a hectic festive programme.
"We've obviously had a lot of games in a short space of time, and I was massively thinking of freshening it up," he added.
"But the attitude of the players in the last few days showed me there were desperate to go again.
"We maybe lacked a little bit of our zip and energy, but we felt if we could raise the bar we could take the game away from our opponents – and that's what we did."
For Wigan boss Paul Cook, there was no respite from a gloomy period that has seen them win only once in the last 13 matches.
Apart from Evans' shocking miss, the home side created very little for lone striker Joe Garner, with Will Grigg left on the bench for 78 minutes.
"It's always hard to talk so soon after a game like that," he said.
"But I thought the first half was going the way we all wanted it to.
"In my opinion there was nothing between the two teams, very fine margins in the game, but this is what's happening to us at the moment.
"Things are going against us at both ends of the pitch which are massively important.
"We have a great chance at one end, and suddenly we find ourselves going into the break 1-0 down.
"The game went away from us quite quickly in the second half, thanks to some devastating finishing from Sheffield United.
"You have to give them a lot of credit, they are a fine team, but it's just not going for us at the minute."