First-half goals from man-of-the-match David Silva and Gareth Barry put City two-up before Ivan Klasnic reduced arrears before the break.
Edin Dzeko scored just after the re-start and it was the Bosnian’s strike that proved to be the winner, despite Kevin Davies pulling another goal back for Bolton just past the hour.
There haven’t been that many occasions in the past where these two teams have gone into the game knowing the winner would top the embryonic Premier League table, but with both sides starting their campaigns with a 4-0 win, the summit awaited the victors of this Greater Manchester derby.
Bollton away was also the Blues’ final fixture of last season, though the opening exchanges were anything but the tepid affair that took place last May
...Bolton 2 City 3
Kevin Davies set the tone for the afternoon’s tempo with a crunching challenge of Aleksandar Kolarov after just 10 seconds - but if Bolton’s plan was to unsettle the Blues with aggressive early challenges, City soon gave back as good as they got.
Joe Hart was forced into once scrambled save before James Milner went close at the other end as the play ebbed and flowed, but once Silva began to dictate proceedings, City started to control the game.
Dzeko’s low cross was blazed over by Sergio Aguero from eight yards out, but that was quickly forgotten as Silva opened the scoring on 26 minutes.
The brilliant Spaniard worked space for himself on the edge of the box before unleashing a low drive that Jussi Jaaskelainen could only deflect into the net.
...Bolton 2 City 3
Aguero could have doubled City’s lead shortly after when he headed Dzeko’s pinpoint cross inches past the post with Jaaskelainen well beaten and he was unlucky to have another effort disallowed for a Micah Richards foul minutes later.
But again, the Blues’ 5,000 travelling army didn’t have to wait long before they were celebrating another goal – and this one stood - with Gareth Barry scoring a 25-yard scorcher from a well-worked corner routine on 38 minutes.
Barry doesn’t score that often, but maybe he should shoot more often if he can ping them home with such accuracy!
Within 90 seconds, however, Wanderers were back in what was proving to be a breathless game with Ivan Klasnic turning in Martin Petrov’s low cross five minutes before the break. That could – and maybe should – have ignited an onslaught by the hosts, but City stood tall until half-time.
Within two minutes of the re-start, the Blues had restored the two-goal lead they’d worked so hard for when Dzeko showed great control and strength to progress into the box and fire a low drive past Jaaskelainen and make it 3-1.
City were attacking at will and looking likely to score with every attack. Silva was popping up everywhere and Bolton powerless to stop him and Milner and Dzeko were also having superb games, yet somehow,
Owen Coyle’s men again dragged themselves back into the game when Kevin Davies scored his first goal against City in 18 career attempts. The Wanderers skipper out-jumped Joleon Lescott to head past Hart on 63 minutes and once again, it was game on.
Carlos Tevez was introduced into the game on 68 minutes, replacing Aguero who was beginning to tire, and the returning Argentine received a warm reception from the visiting thousands.
He was soon back to business, too as within minutes he’d almost set Silva up for a match-winning fourth, but his shot was well-blocked by Zat Knight’s last-gasp challenge.
Both teams tired in the final minutes, but by the time the referee blew for full-time, nobody doubted the Blues had been worthy winners on the day.
Watch extended highlights of the game