"I hope you stay up," said his Aston Villa counterpart, David O'Leary.
"I hope you do," Jewell responded, the underdog undaunted by the rather patronising comment from the manager of one of the historic giants. Helped by two wins against Villa, Wigan did stay up, finishing ahead of O'Leary's team.
What few foresaw then was that it would prove the first of nine successive seasons when Wigan would be tipped for relegation. Eight times they have survived, sometimes improbably. Now they attract well-wishers more for their attractive style of play. The novelty factor has long gone.
Indeed, as Villa and Wigan prepare to meet again, it is with both in trouble and the latter in an all-too-familiar position. Villa have lost their last two games by an aggregate score of 12-0. Wigan have taken a solitary point from their last six games. Talk of a top-10 finish has ceased.
It is a run that is starting to show similarities to last year's autumn sequence of eight consecutive defeats. If Wigan do not panic, it is in part because they are expert escapologists. Having spent around three-quarters of the past two seasons in the relegation zone, a station in the bottom three may not perturb them.
But the manner of the slide is worrying. They have the sense that circumstances are conspiring against them.
"I'm frustrated and angry," said the usually positive manager Roberto Martinez. "It is a moment of the season where results are starting to be very important."
In their last two losses, to Arsenal and Everton, penalty decisions have gone against Wigan.
Go back further and the 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United hinged on a shoulder challenge between Maynor Figueroa and Papiss Cisse that produced a triple whammy for Wigan: a penalty, a 12th-minute red card for Figueroa and a ban at a time when they were short of centre-backs.
A small squad has seen the defence hit hard. All four premier centre-backs missed the draw with Queens Park Rangers. For the first time in his senior career, the midfielder David Jones had to play in a back three, while Martinez had to abandon his favoured 3-4-3 formation for last week's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal due to a lack of fit, specialist central defenders.
It is one reason why a pleasing, passing team have had problems in either penalty area.
"We need to improve by creating more chances and stop conceding soft goals," Martinez said. "Our recent results don't reflect our level of performance."
That was the case last season, too, until their improbable late rally brought seven wins in the final nine games. And yet there is a risk in looking back nine months.
The scale of Wigan's revival was unique. While they cannot afford to dice with danger in quite that way again, they finished with such momentum that they overhauled Villa. A bleak 2012 has brought a mere 33 points yet it is only two weeks since they deservedly defeated Liverpool at Anfield.
"I know we're not a million miles from mid-table," said manager Paul Lambert. "I think the future for the club is really good."
If the long term may be bright, given Villa's youthful talents, the short term is more troubling, especially because of their lengthy injury list. With Nathan Baker the latest addition, Villa have a solitary regular centre-back available. If anyone is equipped to empathise, it is Wigan.
Their task, however, is to capitalise on Villa's problems.
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