Andy Cole's brace brought up his double century of league goals and provided a fitting return to Craven Cottage for Fulham.
Those present for the Whites' 'homecoming' were richly entertained by a pulsating match which took its cue from an explosive start and throbbed with goal chances throughout.
After a gap of two seasons while lodging at QPR's Loftus Road, the pre-match shenanigans - including owner Mohammed Al Fayed singing on the pitch - had proved somewhat embarrassing.
In the end Fulham looked for more old-fashioned values and the predatory Cole, signed this summer from Blackburn, supplied them with a match-winning performance which contained his 164th and 165th Premiership goals, second in the all-time list only to Alan Shearer.
As befitted the occasion, there could hardly have been a more exciting start. Fulham survived a major scare, hit the Bolton post and then scored - all in the first six minutes.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra let the dangerous Jay-Jay Okocha have far too much room to cut in from the right in the opening minute and the Nigerian would have scored with a well-struck low shot but for Edwin van der Sar's diving parry.
It served as a wake-up call for the home side, though, and within three minutes Cole, with his back to goal, cleverly shielded possession following a forward pass by Claus Jensen and laid off for Tomasz Radzinski to strike powerfully against a post from 15 yards.
It was a huge let-off for Bolton and they soon had another when giant Fulham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop rose for a corner but mistimed his header. The home side were soon ahead, though, and there should have been more before half-time.
Jensen's corner on the right found its way through to Zat Knight on the edge of the area in the sixth minute. He struck a fierce shot which ping-ponged through a crowd of players in the box before finding its way over the line and the ball certainly took a big deflection off a Bolton player.
But Cole ran away claiming a touch even though the public address system credited Knight as the scorer.
Diop, Fulham's new addition to midfield, missed a free header from a Jensen corner but it was pretty well the only thing he gave Bolton all afternoon - until an equally bad miss in the 69th minute when he sliced Cole's cross over the bar from short range.
Collins John, who earned a point at Manchester City last week, was clean through in the 35th minute from another of Jensen's educated passes but slipped his shot wide with only Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat.
Then Ivan Campo's poor pass-back error let Cole in and the former England ace surged past the keeper only to squirt his narrow angled shot against the foot of a post with the goal gaping.
In reply Bolton had only long-range shots from Kevin Nolan and Campo before the break but they never stopped working at their football.
Sadly for them, neither did Fulham and manager Chris Coleman should be pleased with the effort and determination his side showed.
Diop is a notable addition to their midfield, a 6ft 5ins marauder who protects the back four with voracious appetite and surges forward to attack the opposition goal - not always with the same success.
Fulham should have had a second when Moritz Volz's stunning drive from 23 yards was acrobatically turned over by the flying Jaaskelainen on 74 minutes.
In the end, though, it was left to Cole to apply the coup de grace. Eight minutes from time he moved on to Jensen's through-ball and drove it through Jaaskelainen's legs to maintain Fulham's record of never having lost to Bolton in the Premiership.