Chelsea eased to a 4-0 win with a superb display against 10-man Bolton on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues had been on top from the beginning but had found no way past the superb Jussi Jaaskelainen, until Didier Drogba was hauled down in first half injury-time by Jlloyd Samuel.
The defender was red-carded, allowing Frank Lampard to fire home the opener from the spot, before Chelsea took full advantage of the extra man in the second period with an entertaining display.
We arrived in the north-west with something of a mixed bag form-wise, three consecutive wins had brought 13 goals and three clean sheets, but all of those games had been at home, and this visit to the Reebok Stadium came off the back of consecutive away league defeats.
Bolton though has been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea in recent years, with wins recorded here, without conceding, in the last six seasons.
Carlo Ancelotti would have to continue that trend without both first-choice full-backs, Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa still absent through injury, allowing Branislav Ivanovic and Paulo Ferreira to continue on the flanks, while Deco was selected in preference to Joe Cole at the top of the midfield diamond.
Having been beaten 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in midweek, Bolton manager Gary Megson decided to match our diamond formation, a decision that almost reaped rewards in the first minute, but Johan Elmander's header looped over Petr Cech's crossbar.
It was 12 minutes before the Blues could get a decent look at Bolton's goal, when Nicolas Anelka crossed for strike partner Drogba, but the ball was just behind the Ivorian who couldn't direct his header.
A minute later the roles were reversed as Drogba laid it right to Anelka, whose powerful shot was turned around his near post by Jaaskelainen. The keeper made an equally impressive save from the corner, tipping over a loose ball that looked destined to dip under his crossbar.
On 20 minutes the Finn was in action again, preventing Drogba from a certain goal with a quick-witted rush from his goal after Cahill, auditioning for a regular place in Fabio Capello's England squad, had clumsily lost out on the edge of his own area.
At the other end Bolton worked a shooting opportunity for Tamir Cohen, but the Israeli's curling effort was straight at Cech.
Although Chelsea were having the more of the ball, we were in no way dominant as the half-hour approached, with Bolton doing a reasonable job of containing their opponents.
Cahill though was not having the best afternoon. Another hashed clearance fell to Drogba, whose cross eventually reached Ivanovic and the Serb made no mistake in lashing home at the second attempt, only for an offside flag, raised against Michael Ballack, to rule the goal out.
At the other end Bolton's aerial power was proving troublesome, as Elmander again won a free header, flicking on for Kevin Davies who should have hit the target from inside the Chelsea box.
Six minutes before half-time a Bolton corner ended up with Cahill on the edge of the area, but having failed to connect properly twice on defensive duty, he over-struck his shot at the other end, the ball flying a yard or so over.
Next it was Elmander's chance to have a go, after he fashioned half a yard of space in front of Carvalho, but he too failed to work Cech, who must have been considering taking the second half off such is Bolton's poor scoring record against us at the Reebok.
Into injury time, Ballack slotted a perfect ball through for Drogba, who looked certain to score as he entered the Bolton box, before having his leg clipped by Jlloyd Samuel before he could shoot.
It left referee Peter Walton with little option but to point to the spot and dismiss the defender, a childhood team-mate of John Terry.
Lampard stepped up to take the penalty at the opposite end to that which he sealed the Premier League title in 2005, and coolly sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way to give Chelsea a lead we just about deserved, and leave Bolton wondering how they would find a way back into the game a man down.
Megson made two changes at half-time, with the ineffective Chung-Yong Lee and Chris Basham with Ricardo Gardner and Paul Robinson, but it was Cohen who had the early opportunity to equalise.
Fortunately for Chelsea, Michael Essien was on hand to sniff out the danger before Cohen, playing in the hole, could shoot.
At the other end Drogba got the better of Bolton's defenders twice in quick succession, but still could not beat Jaaskelainen who was having an inspired game.
Ivanovic was fouled on the right-hand edge of the Bolton area on 55 minutes, and while everybody expected Drogba to shoot, he pulled the ball square for Anelka, whose shot was well charged down.
A corner resulted, eventually falling to Lampard 25 yards out. There was only one thing likely to happen, and sure enough he tried his luck, only to see the ball cannon back hard off the crossbar.
The Blues were approaching full throttle, and it wasn't long before the second goal arrived.
Ricardo Carvalho broke from defence down the left and picked out Anelka in space. The Frenchman turned to see Deco in space further to his right, and found his man. From there it was all about the little Portuguese, who turned inside his marker on the edge of the area to create space for himself, and curled the ball calmly beyond the helpless Jaaskelainen. A fantastic goal.
At 2-0 down with half an hour remaining, there wasn't really anywhere to go for Bolton, who by now were being outplayed and out-thought as well as outnumbered.
Their forays forward were all too rare to suggest the result was under threat, though Ivanovic did have to make a last-ditch tackle to prevent Gardner from an easy tap-in, and then the Jamaican skewed a decent opportunity wide with 15 minutes to go.
Rather than go for the jugular, Chelsea looked to be preserving energy. Ferreira was a little too relaxed when chasing a loose ball, catching Sam Ricketts a fraction late and going into the referee's notebook.
Back on the front foot, Chelsea began to threaten again as Ballack and Essien both sought to shoot, before we were rewarded with a third courtesy of a Zat Knight own goal.
Lampard had volleyed wide to Carvalho, playing his own version of total football on the left wing, and when he skipped past Kevin Davies and crossed with the outside of his boot into the danger area, Knight could only nod it into his own net as Ivanovic closed in. The former Aston Villa defender protested against a high foot from the Chelsea man, but the goal stood and the three points were well and truly secure.
To add further shine, Anelka, Deco and Lampard combined to tee up Drogba, who after a frustrating afternoon could not miss a simple volley from six yards.
To their credit Bolton never gave up, but having gone a man and a goal down, they were always going to be up against it, even before taking into account Chelsea's stylish performance.
The win guarantees top spot ahead of next weekend's match with Manchester United, who play later this evening against Blackburn at Old Trafford.
Next up for Chelsea is Atletico Madrid in Spain on Tuesday, and on current form, that's 17 goals in four games and none conceded, it would be daft to bet against Ancelotti's men.
Bolton (4-diamond-2): Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Samuel; Muamba (M Davies 65), Basham (Robinson h-t), Cohen, Lee (Gardner h-t); K Davies (c), Elmander.
Booked Robsinon 55
Sent Off Samuel 45
You can watch the full 90 minutes of the game on Chelsea TV from 6pm on Sunday.