Manchester United produced a superb second-half performance to come from a goal behind to beat Wigan.
Vidic (left) celebrates his equaliser at the JJB Stadium
United fell behind in the fifth minute, Leighton Baines rifling a sensational 30-yard free-kick into the top corner.
The superb Wayne Rooney hit the bar with a sublime piece of skill before Nemanja Vidic scored his first United goal, heading in Ryan Giggs' corner.
Rooney crossed for Louis Saha to fire home before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rolled in a left-foot shot in injury time.
It was what United deserved for a second-half display full of verve and passion, though Sir Alex Ferguson's men had to improve after a disappointing opening.
If Wigan were apprehensive about playing United after losing three times to them last season - two of which ended 4-0 - they did not show it at the start.
The Latics raced out of the blocks in the early afternoon sunshine and before United had any time to settle, they were already behind.
Eight days ago, the rapidly-improving Baines hit a 25-yard belter for the England Under-21 side against Germany - but this strike was even better.
A free-kick 30 yards out was rolled to him and Baines let fly with a thunderous left-foot shot that screamed past Edwin van der Sar and into the top left-hand corner of the Dutchman's net.
United were struggling to get a kick, though they eventually began to work their way back into it, with Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes influencing proceedings.
Rooney was quiet, until a breathtaking piece of skill brought him to life and almost brought the visitors level.
Chesting the ball down in a packed penalty box 15 yards out, he somehow created half a yard of space and slammed a ferocious shot that rattled Kirkland's crossbar.
Baines opened the scoring with a fabulous long-range effort
Goalless since the start of the season, Rooney looked desperate to end his barren run, chasing defenders down and demanding the ball when United attacked.
His brilliant outside-of-the-foot pass set up Saha just before the hour mark, but the Frenchman unbelievably dragged his 12-yard shot wide when it looked easier to score.
When the equaliser did come, it was from a less likely source. Giggs swung in a corner and Vidic rose unchallenged, nodding past the helpless Kirkland.
Suddenly it was all United and they did not have to wait much longer to go in front.
Rooney found space down the left, clipped in a fabulous cross and Saha somehow brought the ball down and fired home in one impressive movement.
Solskjaer put the icing on the cake deep into stoppage time after another flowing move, his 18-yard left-foot shot creeping into the corner past a stranded Kirkland.
United - for a few hours at least - moved three points clear at the top of the Premiership and once more laid down the gauntlet to champions Chelsea in the process.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on Rooney:
"It was his best performance in a United shirt this season.
"There have been signs he's getting back to his best and he showed what he's about today.
"Wigan are a tough team to play, so we've done well to come away with a victory."
Wigan boss Paul Jewell:
"We've been well beaten today. In the second half they battered us and we have to give credit to them.
"Wayne Rooney is a world-class player. There's been a lot of nonsense spoken about him in the last week.
"People who say he's not a top player don't know what they are talking about."
Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Hall, De Zeeuw, Baines, Teale (Valencia 69), Landzaat, Scharner, Kilbane (Todorov 69), Camara (McCulloch 60), Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson.
Goals: Baines 5.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown (Giggs 45), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Solskjaer, Carrick, O'Shea, Scholes, Rooney, Saha.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Smith, Richardson, David Jones.
Booked: Ferdinand, O'Shea.
Goals: Vidic 62, Saha 66, Solskjaer 90.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).