There was little of Bolton's so-called ugly football on display as a midfield, in which Nolan, Stelios Giannakopoulos and Ivan Campo were outstanding, outplayed City comprehensively.
All the meaningful action was crammed into eight minutes before the break, starting when Kevin Davies, playing on the right away from his normal position, slipped past Stephen Jordan with embarrassing ease and put in a low cross. Nolan applied a back-heel and, although Giannakopoulos could not put it away, the lurking Borgetti could.
Ricardo Vaz Te, on after an early injury to Khalilou Fadiga, stung David James's hands with a fierce volley that could have made it two almost immediately, but, after 40 minutes, Bolton did double their lead. Giannakopoulos floated in a free-kick, Nolan got his head to it and, when the ball came back off Richard Dunne's shins, he was the first to react and drive his eighth goal of the season past James.
Nolan, physically dominating in midfield, could have made it a ninth before the break, but his dipping volley just cleared the bar. As it turned out, Wanderers had already done more than enough because City, who should have been full of confidence following the triumph in the Manchester derby, had nothing to offer by way of response.
There was the occasional spark from Trevor Sinclair and, until his substitution, from City's new boy, Albert Riera, but anything that got as far as the middle was instantly snuffed out.
With Campo back in his old role in front of the back four and always looking, if not invariably finding, the intelligent pass, there was far more of a threat of further Bolton goals than of a City fightback.
Nolan, who was described as "worth a shout" for the England squad by his manager, Sam Allardyce, had the best chance of the second half five minutes from time when he should have made it three after good lead-up work from the tireless Davies and the late substitute, Matt Jansen.
He blazed wide but a third would not have exaggerated Bolton's superiority any more than that five-point breathing space in the League table, with the added bonus of two games in hand, ideal preparation for the Wanderers' belated Christmas party last night.
"We can't do much training because there's so few of us," said Allardyce, referring to his four absentees in the African Nations' Cup. "So they might as well enjoy themselves. The first dozen bottles of champagne will be on me."
City's Stuart Peace was understandably in a less bubbly mood. "I'm disappointed that we gifted a side a couple of softish goals and, in the Premiership, you can't afford to do that," he said, as he tried to come to terms with City's failure to maintain last week's standards.
"It's OK being switched on for one game. You've got to be switched on every week in the Premiership. Some of the performances we got last week weren't there today."Reuse content