Graham Taylor, the Wolves manager, can hardly be blamed for spending the lavish resources at his disposal, and if Bolton's crushing victory and ascent to the summit of the First Division told us anything, it was that budget-priced recruitment can still reap rich rewards.
Taylor was without his biggest buys, Steve Froggatt and Tony Daley, as well as Steve Bull, but the manner of Wolves' second-half surrender to Bruce Rioch's more cohesive team was perhaps a warning to all who hope to follow the Blackburn blueprint.
The most glaring contrast was between Richard Sneekes and John de Wolf. Sneekes set about Wolves as if pursuing a personal vendetta against the goalkeeper, Paul Jones, firing the first goal and thoroughly overshadowing his Dutch compatriot.
Don Goodman equalised with his first goal since a seven-figure move from Sunderland, at which stage there seemed little chance of Bolton recording a second successive 5-1 home win.
From a corner won and taken by Alan Thompson, Simon Coleman nodded Bolton ahead. the goal which broke Wolves was an explosive 25-yard drive by Jimmy Phillips, and after Owen Coyle's fortuitous fourth, Thompson completed the rout.
Bolton can go four points clear at Notts County tomorrow, but must avoid being sidetracked by the Coca-Cola Cup, in which they visit Swindon for the first leg of the semi-final on Sunday. For Wolves, who receive Sheffield Wednesday in an FA Cup replay this week, there is the danger of a knock-out competition becoming a consolation, rather than a distraction.
Goals: Sneekes (9) 1-0; Goodman (26) 1-1; Coleman (37) 2-1; Phillips (60) 3-1; Coyle (79)
4-1; Thompson (84) 5-1.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Green, Coleman, Stubbs, Phillips; Lee, McAteer, Sneekes, Alan Thompson; Coyle, Paatelainen. Substitutes not used: Lydiate, De Freitas, Davison (gk).
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jones; Blades, De Wolf, Law, Andy Thompson; Goodman, Emblen (Bennett, 75), Cowans, Dennison; Kelly, Mills (Thomas, 64). Substitute not used: Debont (gk).
Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).