For so long it looked like three points would elude the Blues here, who were undoubtedly the better team but by no means firing on all cylinders. But persistence, determination and a bit of quality coming off the bench proved to be the difference as Everton finally wore Wigan down and can breathe a huge sigh of relief to be off the mark in the league. The season starts now and there's plenty to be optimistic about.
David Moyes handed a debut to Sylvain Distin and Fellaini dropped to the bench to accommodate Phil Neville back into midfield. Other than that it was the same team that's been starting all season so far, with Saha preferred upfront to Jo.
Without Fellaini on the bench, Cahill was given the chance to play his more accustomed role behind the striker and really push forward more than he has done so far this season. He certainly did that, and got into goal scoring positions on plenty of occasions. The finishing touch proved elusive though and he was frustrated by the Wigan defence and keeper Mike Pollitt on a few occasions.
The first half was pretty dire with few chances of note, the best of them coming to Saha after good work by Pienaar but the Frenchman couldn't quite get on the end of the cross.
Pienaar was his usual industrious self but things didn't quite click for him today and the crosses or final ball into the box didn't quite come off.
Jack Rodwell looked commanding in midfield - he always has time on the ball and picks a pass well - and he also went close in the first half, stinging Pollitt's hands with a drive from the edge of the box that was heading for the top corner.
The game only really came to life in the last half hour though. Paul Sharner, who always scores against Everton, headed home from close range in front of the Gwladys Street and it was starting to look like a bad afternoon for the blues. The crowd were edgy as well, and at 1-0 down you could hear the frustration from the stands.
The game changed though when Fellaini came on. This was probably the best I've seen him play as a centre midfielder. He was always on the ball, didn't give it away once, made tackles and got the Blues moving again.
Louis Saha got Everton back on level terms, heading home from a corner to the relief of Goodison Park, before being substituted for Jo. Everton continued to make chances and Fellaini combined brilliantly with Pienaar and Jo to put the Brazilian in on goal. But he fired straight at Pollitt and Jack Rodwell blazed the rebound over when he should really have done better. It was starting to look like it wouldn't be Everton's day.
Things could have got a lot worse minutes later when the blues were caught out with too many men forward and Wigan broke away with 7 against 2, but Scott Sinclair inexplicably decided to go it alone rather than use the extra men to score, and saw his shot well saved by Tim Howard. Everton were again thankful to Howard when he scrambled a ball away from the legs of Nzogbia in a dangerous position inside the box.
But Everton had done most of the attacking and continued to create chances as the board went up for 4 minutes of injury time. Big roar from the crowd and an even bigger one when Jo was brought down in the box by Boyce and Leighton Baines slammed the penalty home to give Everton all three points.
That was a huge penalty and a huge win. The whole club will be relieved to have 3 points onboard and we can take confidence from it and move on now. Distin had a comfortable and assured debut at the back and Billy even got on for the last couple of minutes.
There's talk that the Dutch right-back Johnny Heitinger is also going to sign subject to agreeing personal terms and Moyes is also keen to bring in David Bentley and even Rafael van der Vaart.
Ever Benegra continues to be linked but that deal seems unlikely now. If we could get Heitinger and Bentley in, it would represent a very good bit of work in the transfer market from Moyes.
I think we'll cope pretty well at the back with Distin in for Lescott and a new right side of the team in Heitinger and Bentley could make a big difference, as could the introduction of Bily on the left.
Tony Hibbert got forward well today and put some great crosses into the box. He doesn't do that enough though and Heitinger would be a good buy to give us more options in that part of the pitch.
And with Bentley onboard as an out and out winger, it will give Moyes a whole host of midfield and attacking options and the chance to rotate a bit and benefit from a strong bench. The impact of that can't be under estimated, as we saw today.