Uwe Rosler will take positive feelings into his first Sky Bet Championship game in charge of Wigan despite seeing his side's Europa League campaign come to an end in the group stage.
Rosler was in the dugout for the first time as Latics boss in Slovenia after succeeding Owen Coyle but could not prevent a sixth straight defeat as Maribor ran out 2-1 winners.
The German has promised a return to something like the passing style of FA Cup-winning manager Roberto Martinez, and the change of approach was evident from kick-off.
Wigan took a deserved lead in the 41st minute through Jordi Gomez's penalty but the game turned a minute later when Chris McCann was deemed to have handled Damjan Bohar's shot.
As well as a giving a penalty, Polish referee Szymon Marciniak showed McCann a second yellow card.
Scott Carson tipped Dejan Mezga's spot-kick onto the post but the same player got to the rebound first and Zeljko Filipovic scored a stunning winner in the 59th minute.
Rosler must now pick his players up for Sunday's derby against Bolton at the DW Stadium.
The former Manchester City striker said: "(The sending-off) wasn't a turning point in terms of performance because we controlled the game after that as well.
"I'm very happy with the way we performed. I think my team did exactly what we wanted them to do and totally dominated the game. I couldn't see them scoring goals.
"We didn't pass the ball in our own half most of the time, we passed the ball in the opposition half. We made them run, they got tired.
"In the second half, 11 against 11, we would have created more and more chances."
Both teams went into the match knowing victory would be enough for them to go through as long as Group D winners Rubin Kazan beat Zulte-Waregem, and the Russians secured a 2-0 victory.
As Maribor celebrated making the last 32, Rosler made his feelings very clear about the performance of Marciniak.
The Latics boss said: "It was a deflected ball that led to a penalty, which could be discussed, but even worse was it leading to a sending-off.
"He shot from a very close distance onto his thigh and from his thigh the ball bounced onto his arm. First of all, it's not a penalty for me, and second of all, never a sending-off.
"I think the referee didn't have his best day, he influenced the game in a massive way. He looked to me very inexperienced, he made a lot of errors.
"I can only say I'm very proud of my players. I think everybody in the stadium would agree that we were the far better team. With no sending-off, we would have won the game."