Given that it is topical to look back 20 years, consider where these two were on 6 November 1986. Not on Sir Alex Ferguson's radar, maybe, but the comparison with today is worth making to illustrate how permanence at Old Trafford has been accompanied by seismic change elsewhere in Lancashire.
On this day then, Bolton were 17th to Wigan's 13th in the old Third Division. Bolton were destined to complete a fall from First Division to Fourth in seven seasons; Wigan were still a decade away from beginning their major climb.
Bolton, under Sam Allardyce, are establishing a stability in the top division the club have not enjoyed since the 1950s. Now their near neighbours believe they can emulate the model.
"We will never be a Liverpool or a Manchester United but Sam has set down something here that maybe we should aim for," the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, said ahead of Saturday's game, which gave him cause to reflect on the outcome with satisfaction.
Lee McCulloch's goal 11 minutes from the end not only ruined Bolton's plan to complete at least a resilient response to their drubbing against Manchester United a week earlier, but confirmed to Jewell that his efforts to supplement enthusiasm with steel in his side are working. After winning only one game of their first seven, Wigan have taken maximum points from their last three. "We've just gone back to basics," Jewell said. "We'd gone away from what had given us our success.
"We'd played well enough but every time we came under pressure we conceded a goal or folded too easily. We're now hard to play against. That's what I want."
To that end, Jewell has gone about rebuilding so extensively that of the team who won 2-0 at Portsmouth on the corresponding weekend last season, only three players remain at the club. It has not been to everyone's benefit. McCulloch, 27 times a starter last season, has begun only two Premiership matches this term, losing his place after suffering a knee injury in August. He hopes his goal, drilled in from 18 yards after Henri Camara and Kevin Kilbane had set him up, will give Jewell a selection dilemma.
"It has been hard to get back in but I just want to play and hopefully I have given the manager a bit of a headache," he said.
Goal: McCulloch (79) 0-1.
Bolton Wanderers (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Ben Haim, Faye, Meite, Pedersen (Hunt, 90); Giannakopoulos, Campo, Speed (Tal, 90); Davies (Vaz Te, 74), Anelka, Diouf. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Smith.
Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Boyce, Webster, De Zeeuw, Baines; Teale (Cotterill, 33), Landzaat, Scharner, Kilbane; Heskey (McCulloch, 28), Camara (Johansson, 88). Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Jackson.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Co. Durham).
Booked: Bolton Davies; Wigan Kilbane, Landzaat.
Man of the match: Diouf.
Attendance: 21,255.Reuse content