The David Moyes effect is wearing off. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from this supine capitulation to a side which is showing signs of overachieving as dramatically as Everton did last season.
Under the former Preston manager, Everton have not always been pretty to watch but they have shown the fight to make them what his Bolton counterpart, Sam Allardyce, called, "the best 1-0 team in the country". Not so at the Reebok Stadium, where Wayne Rooney was just one of a number of anonymous, invisible men as Moyes' side succumbed meekly to a team playing some extravagant football.
Rooney's form is clearly becoming a worry to Moyes, who substituted him early in the second half and then handled the explanation carefully. "He took a knock but it was mainly tactical," he said. "I'm not going to say too much about it but he's a young boy - still young enough to play for our youth team."
This limp display dropped Everton into the bottom three for the first time this season and Moyes had to acknowledge, before ordering them straight on to the coach for the trip back to Merseyside, that he was worried by their lack of spirit. "I would worry about it whether we were top of the League or bottom," he said.
It would be a shame if Bolton's achievement in spending Saturday night in the top half of the table was lost amid Everton's recriminations. "It would have been difficult for anyone to live with us today, apart from the top three," Allardyce said.
One of the reasons for that was a player who, at 35, is almost twice Rooney's age and whose display was the polar opposite. Where the young Englishman looked mentally and physically exhausted, Youri Djorkaeff, back via the bench after a two-month absence, looked refreshed and rejuvenated.
He and Jay-Jay Okocha gave another masterclass in the silkier skills of the game, while Kevin Nolan provided tremendous drive from midfield.
Although blessed with only a fraction of Rooney's ability, Nolan was also a Premiership regular at 18. After a slump last season, he is a vital asset again.
But the real bonus for Allardyce is a defence which, although at first glance looks like a lot of square pegs in round holes, is so difficult to get past.
The makeshift central partnership of Bruno Ngotty and Simon Charlton barely gave Everton a glimpse of goal, Ricardo Gardner has made a successful switch to left-back and the local youngster, Nicky Hunt, shows real promise on the opposite flank. It is an unlikely formula but a winning one.
Goals: Frandsen (26) 1-0; Djorkaeff (46) 2-0.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen 5; Hunt 6, Ngotty 8, Charlton 7, Gardner 8; Nolan 8, Frandsen 7, Campo 7, Okocha 8; Davies 6, Giannakopoulos 6 (Djorkaeff 8, 30). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Pedersen, Jardel, Thome.
Everton (4-4-2): Martyn 5; Hibbert 5, Yobo 6, Stubbs 6, Unsworth 5; Carsley 5, Lideroth 4 (McFadden 6, ht), Gravesen 5 (Nyarko 5, 70), Kilbane 4; Radzinski 5, Rooney 4 (Jeffers 4, 53). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Naysmith.
Referee: P Durkin (Dorset) 7.
Bookings: Everton: McFadden.
Man of the Match: Nolan.
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