PREMIER new boys Wigan will have long forgotten their pre-season draw at Accrington Stanley by the time they take on champions Chelsea in their opening top flight game.
But when the Reds begin their campaign, boss John Coleman will make sure the draw is fresh in his players minds as they came so close to defeating one of the English elite.
The Latics had some triallists but most of their team were made up of squad members who could play some part in their battle to stay in the Premiership next season.
And they had to throw on the big guns of striker Nathan Ellington in the second half to try and see off the never-say-die Reds.
It looked like it could just finally be Stanley's day, after some hard pre-season friendlies which have only produced one victory, when they took the lead from the penalty spot from an unlikely source.
Many Reds fans won't have seen top scorer Paul Mullin take a spot kick but he asserted his claim to be their penalty king this season and scored on 24 minutes after a foul on Gary Roberts.
But Wigan's tricky frontman Lee McCullough upset the Reds with a wonder goal 16 minutes from time to at least give some relief to their worried looking manager Paul Jewell.
"That result will give us a boost," said Reds manager John Coleman. "We worked hard and in the first half we were excellent.
"We tired towards the end and they came on a lot stronger in the second half.
"We were fortunate to take the lead as I thought it was off-side - the ball for the penalty - but we stuck at it and defended well and the new lads came in and did well.
"It would have been nice to see the win out. I was a little disappointed the lad got space to shoot but it was a wonderful goal."
Stanley started with triallist Rodney Jack, the former Crewe striker who is looking for a contract, up front alongside Mullin.
And, at the back, it was a new look defence with Robbie Williams partnering former Macclesfield centre half Michael Welch with ex-Blackburn and Blackpool player Leam Richardson at left back and Steve Jagielka filling in for the injured Peter Cavanagh at right back.
But, despite having Premier class players to cope with including tall French striker Degui Bakari, who was on trial from Lens, they gave them little room and it was the Reds who forced the pressure in the opening half.
Gary Roberts was a livewire on the left wing and linked up well with Richardson while Ian Craney and Anthony Barry battled hard in the centre of the field.
And Wigan were limited to long range efforts as Reds keeper Stuart Jones had an easy time in the goal.
David Brown would have loved to have opened his scoring this season with a class goal against the Premier boys and he came so close after Craney set him up.
Brown, on the right wing, hooked the shot and, to his disbelief, it cannoned off the crossbar and bounced out to safety.
But it wasn't long before Stanley were celebrating when Roberts ran into the area and went down under a challenge from Ryan Taylor.
The Reds crowd of 751 were slightly stunned when Mullin, wearing the captain's armband, grabbed the ball and put it down on the spot as, even in penalty shoot-outs, the hitman hasn't taken a spot kick.
And although boss Coleman admitted he didn't have the best feeling when Mullin stepped up, his skipper had no such qualms and he sent the keeper the wrong way.
Wigan then had little to offer with Williams pulling off some crunching tackles to keep the Premier club at bay.
Jewell was certainly not happy and Mullin admitted: "They got a roasting at half-time as we could hear it and it was nice not to be on the receiving end of it for once!"
And it looked to have done the trick as a rash of subsitutions, which included prolific scorer Ellington, suddenly made Wigan a sharper outfit after the break.
But, after weathering an early storm, Stanley again weren't rattled and coped admirably with Premier stars.
However, one moment of class then made a difference. A short throw in set up McCullough who shot on the turn and his effort, from an angle, hit the stanchion and bounced into the net with just 16 minutes left.
It was gutting for the Reds who had worked so hard to keep the lead but they didn't let their heads drop - as they did at times last season.
Coleman made a couple of changes with traillist Danny Ventre coming into defence and Lee Hunt, who is on trial from Rhyl, playing up front.
And Hunt was almost instantly a Reds hero as, with 83 minutes gone, a Jagielka corner found the head of the diving Hunt but unfortunately for the home side, Steve McMillan was there to clear the ball off the line.
Stanley boss Coleman was certainly the happier manager at the final whistle as the Reds got some cheer from what has been a mixed pre-season.
"It has been stop-start as we have never had a settled side out and have been hampered by injuries but, as I have said all along, I have never been as optimistic as I am this pre-season."
- THE Reds won 2-1 on their quick trip to Scotland to take on Dundonald Bluebells at the weekend with Roberts and Jagielka on target for Stanley before the Scottish side got a late consolation. It was the Reds first pre-season win in their six first team friendlies.