It was a poor start for Dougie Freedman's side, who harbour hopes of kicking on and clinching a top-half finish this season.
To do so, they will need to vastly improve from their showing last weekend, while their League Cup campaign also got off to a shaky but more successful start in midweek.
The Trotters needed a penalty in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time to force extra time against League Two side Bury, and even then they were left hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the closing stages.
Such an unconvincing start leaves the club 23rd in the Championship going into Saturday's match against Nottingham Forest, and Freedman has already moved to improve his squad since the domestic campaign got underway.
The loanee, who spent two temporary stints at the Reebok last season, has been cleared to play and could feature this weekend.
Forest made a solid start to their own campaign, although they didn't raise too many eyebrows with a 2-0 victory over troubled Blackpool.
With plenty of money behind them, Stuart Pearce's side are big favourites to be challenging for promotion this season, and the new manager will be happy to have got a good win under his belt so early.
The former England Under-21 boss has already urged his players to build on that victory, however, and he will be viewing Saturday's match at the Reebok as another winnable encounter.
Chris Burke is likely to continue in midfield following his debut goal against Blackpool, while fellow new boy Michail Antonio will also be looking to keep up his good start having netted last weekend and against Tranmere in the League Cup on Tuesday.
Michael Mancienne was sent off in that midweek match, however, meaning that he will be suspended for Saturday's clash at the Reebok.
Nottm Forest: LLWWWW
Possible starting lineups
Bolton: Lonergan; McNaughton, Mills, Ream, Moxey; Kamara, Spearing, Lee, Pratley, Danns; Davies
Nottm Forest: Darlow; Hunt, Lascelles, Fox, Harding; Burke, Cohen, Reid, Antonio, Fryatt, Assombalonga
Sports Mole says: 0-1