REPORT: Dons 0-1 Wigan - Two off as Powell wins it for the Latics
Nick Powell secured all three points for Wigan as MK Dons lost 1-0 on the opening day of the season in a game which saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
Powell scored the only goal of the game six minutes before the break, catching Dons on the counter after great work from the standout Michael Jacobs.
But the game would be tilted in Dons' favour four minutes later when Callum Elder caught George Williams late, earning him a straight red card.
Balance would be restored though 13 minutes after the restart when Scott Wootton, making his first competitive appearance for Dons in just under a year, was shown a straight red too, this time for a foul just inside the centre circle, with Jacobs shaping to break clear.
Dons keeper Lee Nicholls made a string of excellent saves to prevent the visitors running wild, Dons never really tested Christian Walton enough to warrant a share of the spoils.
Robbie Neilson named what appeared to be his strongest 11 for the league opener, with no fewer than five new faces included in the starting line-up, though Scott Wootton was playing his first competitive game since August after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.
For Wigan, among the favourites to make an immediate return to the Championship, former Dons loanees Ryan Colclough and Will Grigg were named among the substitutes.
The opening 45 minutes was played at pace as both sides looked to capitalise on their pace in behind. But it would be a tough one for both Ryan Seager and Wigan forward Ivan Toney as they were out-muscled by big defences.
It meant chances were left to efforts from range, by and large. For Dons, both Seager and Kieran Agard had strikes saved by Christian Walton in the Latics' net, while Nick Powell and Gavin Massey fired wide for the visitors.
The midfield battle was a fiesty one too, with Gboly Ariyibi drawing a lot of fouls - Wigan skipper Sam Morsy finding himself in the book for one - but both sides appeared to thrive in the the physical nature of the clash.
Dons were beginning to look on top as the half drew to a close, but a sucker punch from Nick Powell meant they'd be trailing at the break. A clearing header from Ous Cisse from inside his box sparked a Dons attack but when it was intercepted, Wigan mounted one of their own. Michael Jacobs was able to run 40 yards with the ball before sliding in Powell, who was among the Manchester United side who got beaten 4-0 at Stadium MK in 2014, to slot neatly past Nicholls for the lead.
Wigan would be dealt a real blow two minutes before the break though when Callum Elder was high and late on George Williams and dished a straight red card to reduce the visitors to 10.
But 13 minutes into the second half, referee Kevin Johnson levelled the game up in terms of numbers with a dubious sending off of Scott Wootton. As Jacobs looked to break clean through behind, Wootton took the midfielder down just inside the centre circle, but had both Ethan Ebank-Landell and Williams covering. The referee though dished out his second red card of the afternoon.
With the mood now changed and Wigan in the ascendancy, Lee Nicholls was the only reason they didn't run away with the scoreline. He kept out an excellent Toney header in acrobatic style before denying Nathan Byrne and then Jacobs in a quick flurry.
Neilson made his three chances, introducing Peter Pawlett, Robbie Muirhead and Brandon Thomas-Asante, and though they looked a more lively outfit as desperation kicked in, Walton was never given a reason to dirty his kit.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Lewington, Upson (Muirhead 81), Cisse, Tshibola, Ariyibi, Agard (Thomas-Asante 81), Seager (Pawlett 63)
Subs not used: Sietsma, Downing, McGrandles, Brittain
Wigan: Walton, Byrne, Elder, Morsy, Evans, Toney (Grigg 68), Massey, Jacobs (Colclough ), Dunkley, Powell (Thomas 46), Burn
Subs not used: Evans, Perkins, Gilbey, Hunt
Booked: Williams, Morsy, Lewington, Thomas, Massey, Muirhead
Sent off: Elder, Wootton