Over 9,000 fans went into the break with a huge cup upset looking the most likely of outcomes, but a fight back from Wigan Athletic sent the match to a replay at the DW Stadium.
Lee Hughes opened the scoring for the valiant Magpies, coolly slotting underneath the onrushing goalkeeper.
Then, to the disbelief of many in attendance, the lead was doubled from a spectacular Ben Davies free-kick.
After the break the affair became much nervier for the home team as Jason Scotland finished well from just inside the box.
Ben Watson completed the comeback late on from a corner, latching onto the ball with his head.
Six changes were made from the Wigan team that thumped Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 in the previous round. However, a strong line-up remained, as Notts faced their biggest challenge of the season.
A great deal of optimism lingered around Meadow Lane prior to kick-off, emphasised by the Kop, who were in fine voice long before the first whistle - buoyed by the prospect of reaching the fifth round for the first time in 18 years.
Enthusiasm in the stands was mirrored on the pitch as the Magpies eagerly closed down their Premiership opponents from the off, not allowing them any time to get into their stride. Defending from the front helped County create the first of the chance of the match inside five minutes, Hughes sliding the ball narrowly wide from a tight angle, having been played through by Craig Westcarr.
This determined approach saw the hosts match Wigan, though their class was evident whenever they were given chance to play. A slick move, involving a number of attacking players, resulted in Jason Scotland finding space in the box, only for John Thompson to nip in before he could get a shot away.
Their next break away had the travelling fans on their feet, as Jordi Gomez surged forward to feed Hugo Rodallega out wide. Steadying himself, he fired off the inside of Stephen Hunt's leg, but Kasper Schmeichel darted down low to deflect the ball onto the post with underside of his wrist, superbly denying a certain goal.
Hughes proved that he still has what it takes to mix with the top-flight talent and wasted no such chance when Davies' hopeful, swinging pass down the line allowed the forward to break free of the backline. Muscling away from his marker, he took a touch before sliding under the ball underneath Vladimir Stojkovic, who had rushed quickly, yet unsuccessfully, off his line.
The assister, Davies, was working hard on both wings, frequently switching with his counterpart, Westcarr. And, from a set-piece on the right, he nearly got his second assist of the game, but Neal Bishop was unable to convert his swinging cross, sending it tumbling wide off his calf from six yard out.
Danger-man Davies did manage to add Notts' second, though, after Hughes was pushed to the ground by Titus Bramble in a similar position to the spot he fired a spectacular free-kick against Torquay earlier in the season. The creative wide-man didn't fail to deliver, yet again, swinging the ball over the wall and into the bottom-right corner, beyond the skidding Stojkovic.
The Kop erupted, perhaps to a level unheard so far this campaign. Was this going to be the cup upset of the round?
A scare for the Magpies rounded off the half when they were unable to clear the ball inside their own box. James McCarthy inventively twisted past his marker to fire low but was denied by the foot of Schmeichel's post.
Davies started the second half in style, too, delivering another teasing free-kick from deep. Hughes appeared to get his toe onto the end of it, leading the Athletic stopper to acrobatically tip behind for a corner at full stretch.
Early fright aside, Wigan looked much more threatening and, within six minutes of the restart, pulled one back. A tight string of exchanges ended in Scotland being issued the ball to his feet, where he clinically slotted into the corner as he progressed into the area.
He could have equalised moments later as well, when another quick move allowed him to turn and breeze a shot inches wide of the upright from the edge of the box. More opportunities followed, Schmeichel denying Scotland at his near post and Rodallega directing over from the subsequent corner.
Notts were by no means pinned back in their own half and were still pushing for a third. Luke Rodgers was introduced to the action and almost scored instantly.
Hughes set the lively striker free down the right side, where he cut inside to test Stojkovic with a stinging drive. The stopper leapt to his right to parry away the shot, leading to a hectic scramble in the goal mouth that nobody, despite a collective effort, was able to take advantage of.
Rodgers' impact on the game proved to be rather significant and he almost found the net with a second chance within minutes. Westcarr's sweeping pass found Hughes in space on the right wing, who then slid into the path of Rodgers, only to have his effort charged down by the busy Stojkovic.
As the clock ticked away, County retreated further and further, clutching onto their fifth round placement. The Latics probed but a combination of a committed, organised defensive unit and an alert Schmeichel kept them at bay - until the 83rd minute.
A back-post corner was nodded back across goal into the run of Watson, who powered a header past everyone in a clustered six-yard box. The visitors maintained their control and looked the most likely to steal the win, but Dave Kevan's team continued to battle until the final whistle.
An added time breakaway almost grabbed a win for his side as well, as Mohamed Diame nearly put the ball past his own goalkeeper. It remained level at the full-time whistle - only just - meaning that both side's names go into the hat for tomorrow's fifth round draw.
The replay is set to be played on Tuesday, February 2 - a 7.45pm kick-off. Check back to the OS tomorrow to find out Notts' potential fifth round opponents.
Attendance: 9,073 (1,327 Wigan Athletic supporters)
Hudson Roofing Man of the Match: Neal Bishop
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, John Thompson, Graeme Lee, Stephen Hunt, Johnnie Jackson, Jamie Clapham, Craig Westcarr (Hawley 83), Neal Bishop, Ricky Ravenhill (Rodgers 67), Ben Davies, Lee Hughes.
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Mike Edwards, Matt Hamshaw, Ben Fairclough, Karl Hawley, Luke Rodgers, Ade Akinbiyi.
Scorer(s): Hughes (26), Davies (40)
Yellow Card(s): Jackson (39), Hughes (51)
Wigan Athletic: Vladimir Stojkovic, Antonio Amaya (Gohouri 46), Jason Scotland, Jordi Gomez (Watson 70), Scott Sinclair (N'Zogbia 70), Emmerson Boyce, Titus Bramble, Hugo Rodallega, James McCarthy, Mohamed Diame, Maynor Figueroa.
Substitutes: Mike Pollitt, Steven Gohouri, Gary Caldwell, Ben Watson, Charles N'Zogbia, Tomasz Cywka, Callum McManaman.
Scorer(s): Scotland (51)
Yellow Card(s): Bramble (39), Figueroa (63)
Report by Dane Vincent