Frank Lampard underlined his importance to Chelsea with a hat-trick at the Reebok Stadium as the Blues closed the gap at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 5-1 win at Bolton on an afternoon to forget for goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
With the visitors cutting through their opponents' defence at will, Lampard and Daniel Sturridge - scorer of eight goals in 12 games during a loan spell with Wanderers last season - both netted twice in the first half, two errors in quick succession by Bogdan allowing each player their second.
Dedryck Boyata scored his first Bolton goal soon after the restart, but it counted for little as Lampard dispatched his third of the day in the 59th minute.
It means the London side go back up to third in the table and are once again three points away from joint-leaders Manchester United and Manchester City.
Bolton, meanwhile, stay rock bottom, with their losing streak in the league extending to six games.
While Bogdan - in the Trotters team for the injured Jussi Jaaskelainen - endured a nightmare, it was a dream performance from Lampard, who followed up his midweek goal in the Champions League draw at Valencia in style and made it clear that after a recent spell on the bench, he still has plenty to offer.
Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas also handed Didier Drogba a start, the Ivorian taking the place of the suspended Fernando Torres, while Sturridge returned as well having recovered from a knee problem.
The hosts' line-up showed five changes from last weekend's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, with Bogdan, Boyata, Gary Cahill, Ricardo Gardner and skipper Kevin Davies the men coming into the first XI.
Bolton were looking for a positive result to lift them out of the relegation zone, but having been defeated the last eight times they had hosted Chelsea, the omens were not good and within two minutes, they were behind.
Jose Bosingwa's cross was intercepted by Boyata to earn the Blues a corner and when Juan Mata swung it in, Sturridge rose unmarked to convert, the forward abruptly halting his celebration against his former club.
Moments later Sturridge fired narrowly wide as the visitors threatened to run riot.
At the other end, David Ngog skewed an effort high and wide, catching John Terry with his boot in the process, and Martin Petrov hit a free-kick into the wall after Raul Meireles had brought down Darren Pratley.
It was not long before Chelsea were back on the attack, though, and on the quarter-hour mark it was 2-0 as Sturridge squared in the box for Lampard, who had the space to slot the ball past Bogdan.
Almost immediately, Bogdan was called upon to stop Lampard scoring another and Mata then skied his attempt from Sturridge's cross.
Bolton needed a response but were unable to make much of a couple of corners before two howlers in two minutes by Bogdan saw the game effectively end as a contest.
First the young Hungarian let Sturridge's shot from the edge of the box loop in off him in the 25th minute when he should have saved.
He then parried David Luiz's strike straight at the feet of Lampard, who tucked it away gleefully.
The shell-shocked hosts managed to wrestle back some possession, but were unable to produce much going forward.
Davies saw a shot deflect wide and the resulting corner came to nothing.
The Wanderers captain and Cahill then got in each other's way while jumping to meet a free-kick, and after Bogdan's save from Mata had been greeted by ironic cheers, referee Peter Walton blew for half-time with boos ringing out around the stadium.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle replaced Gretar Steinsson with Zat Knight at the interval and having started the second half positively, Wanderers pulled a goal back a minute in when Boyata nodded in Petrov's free-kick.
The hosts did their utmost to sustain the pressure, but it took a great tackle by Knight to halt Drogba's progress and Ramires then shot over after Bogdan had made another mistake, flapping at a corner.
Drogba flashed an effort across the face of goal and was the provider when Chelsea added to their lead soon after, laying the ball across the area for Lampard to sweep in.
Bolton refused to give up and thought they had scored again when Davies prodded in Petrov's cross.
But although replays appeared to show the ball had crossed the line before substitute Branislav Ivanovic's clearance, Walton ruled it was no goal.
Sturridge then dragged a chance to complete his own treble wide before Wanderers substitute Chris Eagles saw his effort come back off the post.