Cook Island international Anthony Gelling overshadowed the eagerly-awaited return of Joel Tomkins by scoring his first hat-trick of tries in Super League to help Wigan to a 45-4 rout of Salford.
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Dual England international Tomkins went on as a second-half substitute to end his near three-year exile from rugby league but the Warriors were already in command at 22-0 by then and they went on to add four more tries in a one-sided final quarter to pile on the agony for the outclassed Red Devils.
The 23-year-old Gelling was an obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award but this was very much a team effort from Wigan, who bounced back in style from their shock defeat at relegated Bradford.
After both sides tested each other out, it was full-back Matty Bowen who broke the deadlock on 12 minutes, getting a finger touch to Matty Smith's grubber kick just before it crossed the dead-ball line.
Smith kicked the first of his five goals - he also scored a try and a drop goal - to make it 6-0 and almost added a second try after chasing Sam Powell's kick to the line but the champions were forced to defend desperately as Salford roared back.
Blockbusting centre Junior Sa'u failed to spot the support after breaking clear and, after a Rangi Chase 40-20 kick gave the Red Devils the perfect attacking position, centre Mason Caton-Brown ruined it by spilling the ball close the line.
A finely-balanced match tilted Wigan's way in the last 10 minutes of the first half as the home side ran in two quickfire tries.
Chase's ambitious short drop-out backfired when Wigan scooped up possession 30 metres out and Smith combined with Bowen to get Gelling over for his first try.
Bowen then produced a fend to get past Chase and Gelling got England winger Josh Charnley over for his 17th try of the season.
Leading 16-0 at the break, there was no way back for the visitors when, within two minutes of the re-start, Gelling went on an arcing run from dummy half 15 metres out and used his strength to hold off two defenders and plant the ball over the line for his second try.
Salford coach Iestyn Harris introduced hooker Logan Tomkins, who is on a season-long loan from Wigan, 11 minutes into the second half and three minutes later big brother Joel followed him onto the field to the cheers of the home fans.
He arrived just in time to see Smith have a try disallowed by video referee Ben Thaler for obstruction and witness a brief Salford revival.
Charnley chased back 50 metres to bring down full-back Niall Evalds after he had broken away from his own line before Red Devils left winger Josh Griffin demonstrated a never-say-die attitude to touch down Chase's kick for a 62nd-minute try when Bowen believed the ball was going dead.
Bowen made amends when he broke clear to get Gelling over for his hat-trick on 67 minutes but the best moment came when teenage hooker George Williams went on a 50-metre run, sidestepping and weaving his way to the line for a glorious solo try.
As Salford faded badly, forward Tony Clubb demonstrated exceptional pace by hacking a loose ball ahead and sprinting 40 metres to get a touchdown and Smith rounded off the scoring with a richly-deserved try three minutes from the end.