Sam Ricketts marked his return from more than 10 months out injured with a superb goal for Bolton but it was not enough to prevent the Trotters beginning 2012 at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table as they drew 1-1 with Wolves.
The full-back, making his first appearance since rupturing an Achilles in February, had never scored for the Trotters before but he showed a striker's eye for goal in the 22nd minute with a superb curling shot into the far corner from 25 yards.
Bolton deserved their half-time lead despite Stephen Ward's thunderbolt against the bar but Wolves levelled less than four minutes into the second half when Steven Fletcher headed home Matt Jarvis' free-kick.
Defender Gary Cahill captained the side despite a fee having been agreed with Chelsea, and he received a warm reception from fans when his name was read out.
Bolton got the goal their play deserved midway through the half, and it was a moment of real quality from Ricketts, who picked up the ball in space 35 yards out and drove forward before curling a brilliant effort past Wayne Hennessey.
Wolves had offered little in attack but they came within a whisker of equalising 12 minutes before the break when Ward let fly from 25 yards and his shot smacked against the bar.
Mick McCarthy made a substitution at half-time, sending on Dave Edwards for George Elokobi, and within four minutes the visitors were level.
Wolves won two free-kicks in quick succession and from the second Jarvis sent in a wicked ball that Fletcher headed in from close range with Jussi Jaaskelainen rooted to the spot.
It was an eighth goal of the season for the Scot, who was brought to England in 2009 by Bolton boss Owen Coyle when he was at Burnley.