Wigan coach Shaun Wane admitted his gamble on the fitness of Australian stand-off Brett Finch backfired as the Stobart Super League leaders crashed to a 30-10 defeat at second-placed Warrington.
Finch, who missed last week's win over Hull with a hamstring strain, was pressed into action for the big clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but he looked anything but fit.
Wane said he was left with no alternative after understudy Sam Powell was ruled out with a back injury and with scrum-half Thomas Leuluai still three weeks away from returning from a broken leg. "Sam Powell wasn't fit and Leuluai is still out so I couldn't go anywhere else," Wane said.
"Brett is a seasoned pro and I thought he'd have got through it, but he was struggling with it."
In-form Warrington dominated from start to finish against their out-of-sorts opponents to complete the Super League double over Wigan for the second successive season and move to within a point of them with three games left of the regular season.
Wigan never recovered from a dismal start in which they conceded two tries, to back-row forwards Ben Westwood and Ben Harrison, inside the first seven minutes.
"We weren't at the races," admitted Wane. "It was very disappointing. We didn't play how we trained all week. Our start was poor. We had a 37% completion rate in the first 20 minutes and that is absolutely unacceptable. The players need to work harder.
"We didn't trust the game plan we had and made too many errors against a quality team. To concede 30 points has massively gutted me. The players are devastated and quite rightly so. It was a massive game and we were desperate to win but we came up against a team that wanted it more than us."
Double-chasing Warrington's second win of the season over the Warriors came just five days after their victory at third-placed St Helens and a fortnight before they meet Leeds in the Challenge Cup final.
"It was a good effort, backing up from last week," said Wolves coach Tony Smith. "It was a short turn-around against two very strong contenders in the comp. They're a talented team and keep you on your toes right though the 80 minutes but we concentrated well and put in an energetic effort. I thought we were right on the money."