Tony Pulis has still not managed a league win against Wigan under Roberto Martínez, and though he must have thought he would break his duck here after changing his system to match the visitors' 3-5-2 and taking a two-goal lead, he was confounded by an entertaining comeback inspired by the Latics' latest Honduran recruit.
With a booking and a hand in all four goals Roger Espinoza had a full league debut to remember, though what Wigan supporters will recall is how he took charge of the game, acceptability responsibility and instantly commanding respect from his team-mates despite his obvious inexperience. Wigan suddenly have a new go-to man and, though a point lifts them out the bottom three only on goal difference, every other aspect of the second-half recovery was encouraging. Stoke could even have lost had Franco Di Santo put away a late chance from Shaun Maloney's cross, and Pulis heard boos as his players left the field.
"Roger took 15 or 20 minutes to get the tempo of the game – after that he was a joy to watch," Martínez said. "I've been following him since I first saw him in the World Cup in South Africa. Playing for Honduras he was up against Jean Beausejour of Chile. Now we've got them both."
Wigan's Latin American connection got them into trouble midway through the first half. The visitors were just about holding their own in midfield, if not producing much in front of goal, when Espinoza marred his evening by giving a foul away on the edge of his area. When Charlie Adam chipped in the free-kick Beausejour attempted a headed clearance only to hit his team-mate James McCarthy in the back of the neck, leaving the ball to sit up invitingly for Ryan Shawcross to stroke a volley past the hopelessly exposed Ali al-Habsi.
Lightweight up front and fragile in defence, Wigan are too often the architects of their own misfortune, and unbelievably Espinoza had to be spoken to by the referee a couple of minutes later for pulling over Glenn Whelan in a similarly dangerous position. Watched by Gordon Strachan, Adam wasted his chance to cross on that occasion, but cutting in from the opposite wing just after half an hour he found enough space to try his luck with a long-range curler that flew narrowly wide. Wigan had begun the game passingly neatly and intricately enough to make Stoke look clumsy, though the home side's more direct approach was paying dividends by the interval.
What Wigan never do is change the way they play, however, and once they recomposed themselves after going a goal behind they created a couple of half-chances through Beausejeur on the left before Espinoza, almost inevitably, went into the book on the stroke of the interval for a needless foul on Matthew Etherington. With such a high proportion of the playing staff at Wigan speaking Spanish, not to mention the manager, one would have thought someone might have impressed upon the debutant that the first rule of playing Stoke is not to give away unnecessary free-kicks.
Espinoza also played a part in the next three goals, though for the first he was slightly unlucky when his reverse pass in the Stoke penalty area found only Geoff Cameron. The defender sent Adam on a lonesome run from halfway, Habsi could only beat out the eventual shot and Peter Crouch had a simple task in mopping up the rebound.
With three minutes of the second half played that should have been that, but Wigan and Espinoza are made of stronger stuff and hit back almost immediately. The midfielder sent a return pass forward for Di Santo, who was blocked off and could not reach it, allowing James McArthur to show great presence of mind in running on to the ball and improvising a finish to beat Asmir Begovic.
After that almost anything seemed possible and it was no great surprise to see the same three players bring Wigan level on the hour. Espinoza's measured cross found McArthur, whose precise knockdown was crisply tucked away by Di Santo.
"Two-nil, and you cocked it up," trilled the Wigan fans in the away end. It is too early for celebrations yet, but a team that can come back from two goals down on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke surely have another great escape up their sleeve.