Roberto Martínez will meet the Wigan owner, Dave Whelan, in a week's time to discuss his future, the Latics' manager said after his relegated side ended their Premier League season with a performance that summed up many of their strengths and weaknesses.
"Whether I am here or not is not important," said the Spaniard, the bookies' favourite to replace David Moyes at Everton. "What's important is we won the FA Cup, we have an incredible group of players who don't deserve to be in the position we are in the league, but most of all, the club is in the most solid position financially it has ever been in and is ready to bounce back. I can guarantee you, whoever is the manager has a bright, bright future."
If not quite a valedictory blessing, it is not far off, though Martínez acknowledged there are going to be many comings and goings at the DW Stadium this summer. "Next season there will be six guaranteed European games, the cups and 46 league games. There will be weeks when we play Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday. This season we had a squad of 22 players, 24 with the youngsters: we will need 27, and I wouldn't expect any of those out of contract [including Antolín Alcaraz and Franco Di Santo] to stay."
Nor does he expect the likes of widely admired midfielders Shaun Maloney, James McCarthy and Callum McManaman – the latter two already reported to be targets for Liverpool – to remain.
"Every season we've lost players. Manchester United lost Ronaldo. We lost Victor Moses but for the right value: we do not have to sell any player on the cheap. If a bigger club pays the right value, the recruitment department is ready to re-invest the money to make us stronger."
Probably, he said, Wigan will need between 12 and 14 new players. There will be turnover at Villa too, confirmed manager Paul Lambert, though presumably on nothing like the same scale. One to depart will surely be Darren Bent, if the 29-year-old striker can find a club prepared to pay his £70,000-a-week wages, or more likely, that Villa agree to cut their losses and make up any shortfall.
In the circumstances it was probably inevitable that Bent, standing in for the suspended Christian Benteke, should make an immediate impact when Gabriel Agbonlahor's pass gave him a chance to shoot from the edge of the penalty area. He slipped as he did so, but his low effort was sufficiently accurate to beat the Wigan goalkeeper Ali al-Habsi. The equaliser was not long delayed. That it was made and finished by the Wigan full-backs told its own attacking story as Roger Espinoza's left-wing cross was headed powerfully past the Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan by Emmerson Boyce.
Seconds before half-time, Wigan took the lead, when a scramble saw Ben Watson's shot kicked off the line by Ashley Westwood, only for the ball to hit Nathan Baker and rebound over the line.
Villa levelled on the hour, and while the source of the goal may not have been extraordinary, the manner of its scoring undoubtedly was, centre-half Ron Vlaar bringing down a corner and nonchalantly volleying the ball into the top corner.
The marking was not so much poor as non-existent, and therein, of course, has lain Wigan's problem all season. Vlaar's goal was the 39th they have conceded at home in the league this season: no side has conceded more. They came desperately close to winning though, when McCarthy volleyed against the Villa crossbar.
Lambert's main job must be to secure Benteke's future. As he pointed out, the Belgian's goalscoring record since the turn of the year puts him behind only Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
"We've been speaking for the last few weeks, so we'll see what happens," said Lambert. "It's important we keep the nucleus of the lads who are here and add to it. [Since February] I think it's only been the top four and Liverpool who have beaten us. Some of the young lads have played over 30 Premier League games now, and that augurs well for the future. I've got no doubt they'll be a lot better, because they'll know what to expect. They don't look like novices anymore."
Man of the match Shaun Maloney (Wigan)