The optimistic feeling that it might just be time for Doncaster Rovers to mark a bright new era by reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 22 years survived little beyond kick-off in a one-sided tie at the immaculate Keepmoat Stadium.
Rover's first Cup outing at their new home brought their first defeat there as they proved no match for a below-strength Bolton, for whom the Iranian World Cup player Andranik Teymourian was outstanding.
The midfielder, in his first full game for the club, contributed two goals and a perceptive range of passing to a dominant performance by a side showing seven changes from the one beaten at Liverpool on New Year's Day. "We were brave, honest and committed," said the Doncaster manager, Sean O'Driscoll: "They were just better than us. They are powerful, they are strong and they give 90 per cent of Premiership teams problems. They are not going to come to the Keepmoat Stadium and lie down."
Sam Allardyce was delighted with Bolton's attitude from the off, and it did not take them long to get their reward. Mark Wilson gave the ball away to one of the players brought back into the Wanderers' side, Stelios Giannakopoulos, and he was able to pick out Kevin Davies, captain for the day, to score the coolest of side-footed volleys.
Doncaster's one chance to get back into the game came and went shortly after when Ian Walker saved one-handed at the foot of his post from Paul Heffernan's header. Heffernan chased tirelessly for Rovers, but his side needed that one to go in if they were to make a game of it. Andranik's first came after a neat exchange with Ricardo Vaz Te, another Bolton occasional who seemed able to lose his marker at will, and Wanderers were out of sight and on their way to the fourth round when Idan Tal had his first shot saved by Ben Smith but followed up to drive home his second, Dermot Gallagher overruling his assistant's offside flag.
Andranik produced an equally good shot when Davies teed him up on the edge of the area four minutes into the second half, and it was his performance that formed the big bonus for Allar-dyce. "He's a great athlete," said the Bolton manager. "He's taken a long time to settle in, but if he continues like that we could have a player on our hands to put into the Premiership."