Wanderers were unfortunate to find league champions Manchester United in rampant mood, with the visitors running out winners on what was a difficult evening at the Reebok Stadium for the Whites.
Despite displaying their attacking intentions in the early throes, Sir Alex Ferguson's side were clinical when the chances fell their way in the opening half, with their ruthlessness in front of goal duly setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez were the main benefactors, netting five goals between them.
Wanderers still endeavoured in their search to find the back of the United net in the second period, with Nigel Reo-Coker hitting the crossbar and substitute Tuncay Sanli coming close on a number of occasions.
The contest started at a remarkable pace and after just five minutes the visitors were in front.
Having gained possession, Rooney farmed the ball out to Nani on the right flank. In space, the Portuguese winger dispatched a low cross to the near post for the onrushing Hernandez whose touch saw the ball zip beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen.
But the response was immediate from Owen Coyle's charges, and within minutes of conceding could consider themselves unlucky to have not found the net on a number of occasions.
A precise, volleyed cross-field pass from Ivan Klasnic picked out Martin Petrov, who in turn stood a brilliant cross up to the back post. Kevin Davies rose, before Klasnic and Eagles saw their respective efforts both cleared off the line in a chaotic couple of seconds.
Wanderers continued on the front-foot, with Klasnic, in stereotypical fashion, swivelling with his back to goal from the edge of the area extending David De Gea with a stinging effort.
But United were resolute at the back, whilst looking menacing when going forward. And that attacking intent in the final third was to soon bear fruit.
Rooney showed incredible guile inside the penalty area to drift in front of debutant Dedryck Boyata and deftly guide home Phil Jones' cross from the right.
Then, five minutes later, United's lead was three. Jones was again at the hub of the move, eating up the yards down the right flank whilst slaloming his way around a flurry of Wanderers shirts and shooting goalwards. Jaaskelainen thwarted the former Blackburn man's shot, but Rooney was on hand to dispatch the rebounds.
Hernandez then had a goal disallowed for offside, as Wanderers' frustration showed in the form of a flurry of fouls.
The remaining ten or so minutes of the first half then proceeded to peter out, with Nani slamming an effort into the side netting, before the Whites headed for the dressing room to regroup.
After the break, Klasnic continued to be the focal point of the Bolton attack, expertly digging an effort out from under his feet from all of 30 yards that yet again forced De Gea into a clever save.
Kevin Davies then tamely headed into the Spaniard's hands from Chris Eagles' cross, whilst up the other end Anderson's free-kick from way out on the right flank forced Jaaskelainen into a smart save.
But as Bolton looked for a route back into the game, Hernandez struck again. The Mexican, whose start to the campaign had been somewhat hampered having suffered concussion in a pre-season game, showed fine composure to divert Michael Carrick's deflected effort into the net from inside the penalty area.
For all United's class in front of goal, Wanderers continued to endeavour in their attempts to find the back of the visitor's net. Reo-Coker clipped De Gea's crossbar from an acute angle whilst substitute Darren Pratley saw a low drive gobbled up by the United stopper.
With Wanderers committing men forward, Rooney then capitalised to seal his hat-trick, sweeping home Nani's cut back from the right flank.
Coyle introduced summer signings Tuncay and David Ngog throughout the course of the second half, with the former coming close to reducing the deficit with a back post header that only narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The Turkey international then fired a speculative low effort goalwards, before referee Andre Marriner called time on a difficult afternoon for Wanderers.
Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Eagles (Pratley 61), M Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov, K Davies (Ngog 65), Klasnic (Tuncay 76) (Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Muamba, Kakuta, Wheater)
Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans (Smalling 61), Anderson, Rooney, Hernandez, Nani, Young (Giggs 61), Cleverley (Carrick 8) (Unused substitutes: Lindegaard, Berbatov, Park, Fabio)