"But to reach the final on a stage like this is great. We know Bolton and 90% of their goals came off phases of play off Kevin Davies so we narrowed everyone in and made sure their wide players were covered.
"From that tight position we knew we could cause them problems on the break."
Pulis admitted that personally the final on 14 May will take on even greater significance given that it is against Manchester City.
He was in charge of Gillingham for the old Second Division play-off final in 1999, a game Pulis' side lost to Manchester City on penalties despite being two goals ahead with a minute to play.
"I suppose it will mean more,'' he said. "We didn't deserve to lose that game and I had never been back to Wembley for a game since because of it. But it made me a much stronger person. You take things out of defeat as well as victory."
Bolton captain Kevin Davies has apologised on Twitter to the Trotters fans that made the journey to London, only to suffer a humiliating defeat.
"I am so sorry to all of you who came to support us and paid a lot of money. I am deeply upset and lost for words. Deserve the criticism," Davies tweeted.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle was at a loss to explain his side's implosion, but admitted that his players let themselves down badly.
"We haven't performed anywhere near what we are capable of," said Coyle. "That is the hurtful thing and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
"We gifted the goals and we capitulated. If we offered that every week we wouldn't be in the Premier League."
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