It took an unfortunate mistake to send Latics on the slippery slope to defeat by promotion-chasing Wolves at rain-sodden Molineux.
Goalkeeper Mark Oxley's handling error, which could be attributed to the wet conditions, handed Wolves the breakthrough they were struggling to make.
The good work of the goalless opening period was undone by second-half goals from James Henry and Leigh Griffiths.
Lee Johnson had frustrated Wolves, a Premier League less than 18 months ago, by packing his midfield with five players, a tactic which he admitted worked to a point in the first half.
Once Henry was handed the opening goal, Latics threw caution to the wind as they brought on strikers Adam Rooney and Jonson Clarke-Harris as they chased an equaliser.
Latics' manager took positives from the game while adding he hopes his young players will have learned from the big-match experience.
He said: "I was really pleased with five or six of our lads who were magnificent. They can go away, look in the mirror and think they can play on that stage.
"Two or three weren't quite there which was the problem. They were a bit weak, light and schoolboy in the second half and that is what cost us.
"The key point was the mishandling for the opening goal, Apart from the mistakes for the goals, I thought we were comfortable and had one or two chances ourselves."
Johnson pointed to a miss from Cristian Montano when the game was goalless – he headed over from six yards – as being pivotal.
"We had a few chances and knew we could score. Monty has got to put that one away from six yards. They are the sort of things can make the difference between winning the game and getting out of this division," he explained.
Strikers Charlie MacDonald, who was ruled out through injury, and Adam Rooney lost their places from Saturday's home win against Carlisle.
Montano and Carl Winchester were recalled to reinforce the midfield while Danny Philliskirk operated as the lone front man.
Wolves' wealth of riches was such that Eire international striker Kevin Doyle had to settle for a place in the bench.
Latics' game plan worked to a tee in the opening half as Wolves only occasionally threatened to break the deadlock.
Indeed, Montano could have given Latics a 19th minute lead with his free header from six yards which sailed over the crossbar.
Oxley was untroubled until the latter stages of the half when he clawed out a free kick by Bakary Sako from under the crossbar. From the resulting corner, Danny Batth's downward header looped over the crossbar.
And in stoppage time, Oxley made an excellence full-length save low to his right to turn away a drive from Henry.
Batth flashed a header narrowly wide soon after the restart before Wolves made the breakthrough in the 50th minute.
Sako fired over a low cross from the left which the diving Oxley could only push out as far as Henry whose shot trickled over the goalline in slow motion which only served to add to the agony.
Johnson quickly reverted to Plan B as strikers Rooney and Jonson Clarke-Harris were brought on for Winchester and James Dayton.
Clarke-Harris had an early shot blocked as Latics remained in the game until 11 minutes from time when Wolves struck again.
Former French under-21 international Sako was against the provider with a long ball which skidded off the sodden surface to deceive Jonathan Grounds and enable Griffiths to burst clear as his shot flew in off the upright for his ninth goal of the campaign.
Latics' third change was injury enforced as Joseph Mills limped off with a hamstring problem to be replaced by David Mellor.
There was a little flurry from Latics as Montano broke clear only for keeper Carl Ikeme to save bravely at his feet. He then athletically turned over a drive from Philliskirk.
Late in the game, Wolves could have extended their lead as Latics were stretched chasing the game.
Oxley saved well to deny Henry and Lee Evans while the keeper also did well to distract Scottish international Griffiths and forced him to shoot wide when clean through.
Wolves (4-4-1-1): Ikeme; Doherty (Sigurdarson 37), Batth, Ricketts, Golborne; Henry, Price, McDonald, Sako; Evans (Edwards 89); Griffiths (Doyle 90+3). Subs (not used): McCarey, Stearman, Forde, Ismail.
Latics (4-5-1): Oxley; Kusunga, Tarkowski, Grounds, Mills (Mellor 62); Dayton (Rooney 56), Wesolowski, Smith, Winchester (Clarke-Harris 56), Montano; Philliskirk. Subs (not used): Rachubka, Schmeltz, Rodgers, Millar.
The goals: Henry (50), Griffiths (68).
Booking: Montano (74) for Latics.
Referee: Mr R Ellis.