Nicolas Anelka returned to haunt former club Manchester City with two goals in Bolton's impressive win at Eastlands.
Anelka (centre) scored 46 goals during a two-and-half-year spell with City
The Frenchman latched on to Nicky Hunt's superb flicked pass to lash in the first at the near post.
And Anelka coolly rolled in his second on 25 minutes from Henrik Pedersen's cross after another sweeping move.
Paul Dickov had City's best chance but was denied by a sprawling save by Jussi Jaaskelainen while Joey Barton saw red late on for a lunge on Abdoulaye Faye.
Barton was one of the few City players to emerge with credit in an abject performance but could have no complaints about his dismissal or the result.
City chances were at a premium and Sam Allardyce's side - inspired by a rampant Anelka - were good value for their fifth Premiership away win of the season.
The result did not look in doubt from the moment the temperamental Anelka finished off a glorious move to put Bolton ahead after eight minutes.
Some slick passing saw Kevin Nolan lay the ball off to Hunt whose first-time flick was gleefully smashed home by Anelka.
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City responded immediately through Dickov but the fiery Scot's header was clawed away by Jaaskelainen although City claimed the ball had crossed the line.
But Bolton were soon celebrating their second goal. Pedersen raced away on the right flank, cut inside Barton and teed up Anelka who calmly placed the ball past Nicky Weaver.
The visitors comfortably held out until half-time but City began the second period in determined fashion as they looked to avoid a third successive Premiership defeat.
Referee Mike Riley sends Barton on his way
Barton went close with a cheeky free-kick that Jaaskelainen did well to keep out at the near post and Darious Vassell had decent claims for a penalty turned down when he was chellenged by Abdoulaye Meite.
But despite a promising start to the second period, City looked lightweight in attack and Bolton never looked unduly troubled.
City's misery was completed late on when Barton was shown a straight red card for a wild two-footed lunge on Faye.
Bolton then had chances to make it 3-0 but Nolan blazed over and Anelka spurned a headed opportunity to grab a hat-trick.
Man City boss Stuart Pearce bucks the trend by speaking out against video technology:
"I'm against it and one incident against my team hasn't changed my mind.
"A lot of people call for technology but in my mind you should leave it to the officials to officiate.
"The beauty of football is it's spontaneous, and you would lose that."
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce pays tribute to Jussi Jaaskelainen and Nicola Anelka:
"When we needed him, Jussi pulled off a massive save and that's one of the reasons we won.
"Anelka has shown City what they're missing. Give him the chances and there's nobody better at taking them."
"It's a pity Nicolas has not played for another 17 Premiership clubs if that's what he does against his former teams."
Man City: Weaver, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher (Dabo 56), Trabelsi, Barton, Ireland, Miller, Vassell, Dickov (Samaras 55).Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Jordan, Beasley.
Sent Off: Barton (87).
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Meite, Ben Haim, Pedersen (Gardner 87), Nolan, Campo, Faye, Speed, Anelka, Diouf (Vaz Te 72).Subs Not Used: Walker, Teimourian, Tal.
Booked: Diouf, Faye, Hunt.
Goals: Anelka 8, 25.
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).