The likelihood that this may be the season in which Wigan do not win their annual Premier League survival battle is growing.
The Latics were their usual attractive selves, passing the ball with a precision that few sides can match and creating any number of promising positions, but they failed to make the most of any of them to equalise Matt Jarvis's fortunate first-half goal for the Hammers. Inevitably, perhaps, they were then caught on the break 10 minutes from time, and Kevin Nolan volleyed a second to secure the three points that takes West Ham to 42 for the season.
"We're disappointed, but we still have a game in hand, we have five games left, we probably need three wins and it's something we can achieve," said Roberto Martínez, who appears to grow more certain of survival the wider the trap door gapes.
His confidence is based on performances, rather than results. "I enjoyed our performance, particularly in the second half. That was as dominant a performance as you are going to see from an away team in the Premier League," continued the Spaniard, but unfortunately football, unlike ice dancing, does not award points for artistic merit.
His opposite number, Sam Allardyce, acknowledged his side had not been at their best, but made the valid point that they had taken their chances, something Wigan signally failed to do. "If you can win a game in the Premier League and not be playing your best, it's a measure of your determination and capabilities, and rather than surrender and go under, we stayed in the game until we had the opportunity to finish them off," said the West Ham manager.
The match began with Wigan twice putting together fine passing moves that resulted in first Maynor Figueroa and then Shaun Maloney having the ball at their feet in the West Ham penalty area: in neither case did a shot result.
For West Ham, in contrast, James Collins rose unopposed to glance a Gary O'Neil corner wide and Nolan fastened on to a quickly taken free-kick to bring a good save from the Wigan goalkeeper, Joel Robles. Wigan's approach almost paid off soon afterwards though, when James McCarthy slipped Maloney clear into the West Ham area. The Hammers goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, came out quickly and did well to smother the midfielder's shot.
But it was West Ham who took the lead. Jarvis's low, right-footed cross from the left-wing should have been dealt with by the Wigan defence, and Robles in particular, but the goalkeeper allowed himself to be distracted by the in-coming Mohamed Diamé and Nolan, neither of whom got a touch as the ball curled across the goalmouth and in at the far post.
The game had a pleasing urgency in the first half, but in the second half it was all Wigan. Jordi Gómez, Arouna Koné, James McArthur and Jean Beausejour all saw shots blocked by defenders or saved by Jaaskelainen, but McArthur must have thought he had beaten the 38-year-old Finn when Maloney cut the ball back to him eight yards out. Diving to his right, Jaaskelainen just managed to palm the ball away, with Koné inches from turning in the rebound.
Afterwards Allardyce indicated that although the Hammers are not quite mathematically safe, he would now sign a new contract. He would dearly like to see his centre-forward Andy Carroll sign a permanent contract too, though this was the sort of game in which the loanee from Liverpool had more of a job to do in his own penalty area than that of the opposition. He did it very well too.
Perhaps his way back into the England team will be as a centre-half.