Soon the opportunities may run out for Rovers - but for now, the gap to the play-offs is four points, and still in touching distance.

The disappointing aspect is when they have moved within striking distance of the top six, they have put in below-par displays.

It was the case at Derby pre-lockdown. Then they knew victory would lift them to their highest position of the season, sixth, but they were blown away in a 3-0 defeat.

A deserved victory over Bristol City on the return to action hauled them back into contention once again. But the occasion added to the disappointment of the afternoon, beaten 2-0 at Wigan where they have now not won in 11 games.

Across the 90 minutes, Rovers had possession, they had control, but a starting line-up that shared just 17 goals looked exactly that - short of firepower. There was intricate and neat build-up, but at times you struggled to see how Rovers were going to fashion chances against a defence that was coming up towards 500 without conceding a goal.

The hope was the 19 league goals in reserve, including top scorer Adam Armstrong, would be key - but what it did prove was that Rovers must start as they mean to go on, not put undue pressure on those coming on to provide the spark.

The substitutions proved decisive in the Bristol City and did here, but not how Rovers had wanted.

They again looked at their most lively in the final quarter, as they did seven days earlier, Armstrong looking lively from the moment he took to the pitch, and must be a certain starter at Oakwell on Tuesday.

But it was two Wigan substitutes who would have the biggest impact, albeit Rovers giving them a helping hand. Christian Walton unnecessarily put Tosin Adarabioyo under pressure from a short goal kick, and in the ensuing Wigan pressure, he spilled an Antonee Robinson cross in to the path of Lee Evans who thumped the ball home.

Then, as Rovers pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Michael Jacobs showed fleet of foot and then coolness to finish to slam the ball beyond the reach of Walton.

Three free-kicks and two back-post headers apart, it was slim picking for Rovers in front of goal.

 Their one-touch passing was  neat and intricate, but at times it felt as though Ryan Nyambe was ploughing a lone furrow in trying to add some penetration in the final third

Elliott Bennett was willing on the other flank, but without a left foot of note, was forced to check back inside as momentum was sucked out of Rovers' attacks.

While Mowbray wasn't using injuries as an excuse, Corry Evans was a big loss, his tenacity and workrate, along with that of Travis, was key to Mowbray’s new 4-3-3 system working the previous weekend. Evans helped make light of Rovers’ issues at left back, while Travis' work on the opposite flank enabled Rovers' wide forwards to play high up the pitch.

They weren't afforded the same luxury here, pinned back by Wigan's ever-willing full backs.

With Lewis Holtby dropping in on deep-lying midfielder Sam Morsy, there were few chances for Rovers to spring any quick counters.  As an attacking force you could quite often throw a blanket over the Rovers midfield and attacking three.

While Rovers had much of the play, Wigan had the chances. Kieffer Moore flashed a shot just wide, after Bennett was robbed of possession, before Cedric Kipre headed just wide from a set play, both inside the opening 10 minutes. Rovers had to wait until the 45th for their first attempt on target, David Marshall tipping away Downing's free-kick.

There appeared to be more purpose about Rovers at the start of the second half though, another Downing free-kick flashing just wide, while the midfielder’s deep cross was inviting for Gallagher who rose well, but couldn’t keep his header on target.

Not that Wigan weren’t sounding their own warnings, first Sam Morsy thundered a 25-yard drive wide before Anthony Pilkington passed up a good opportunity.

Armstrong was Rovers' ace in the pack, called for by Mowbray in the 64th minute, and he had an almost immediate impact, almost setting up fellow sub Samuel for the opener.

That momentum was short-lived though, Mowbray furious at his goalkeeper for an error which gave Evans a golden opportunity from which he couldn't miss.

Rovers had 10 minutes, plus sizeable stoppage time, to find a response. It almost came within seconds, Samuel’s header from Downing’s delivery tipped over by Marshall.

But that was as good as it got, time ticked on frustratingly, but not before another Wigan substitute could add insult to injury as Jacobs broke free to slam home the second.

The next opportunity comes at Barnsley on Tuesday night before the league leaders come to town.

Tony Mowbray said his players had five potentially life-changing weeks ahead of them. It could be a season saving seven days as they now bid to stay in the mix.

At Oakwell, Rovers must  start as they mean to go on.