Owen Coyle saluted a touch of Premier League class from his much-changed Bolton side after they squeaked past Southampton 1-0 in the Carling Cup.
Ivan Klasnic spared Wanderers' blushes with the only goal in their second round tie at St Mary's.
The Croatian was handed his first start since rejoining Wanderers in the summer as one of nine changes made by boss Coyle.
And Klasnic, who hit eight goals last term while on loan from Nantes, sank League One Southampton with an opportunist first-half strike.
Coyle was also indebted to Hungarian youngster Adam Bogdan, who was given his debut in goal and produced a string of fine saves as Bolton, with an eye on Premier League survival and just Kevin Davies and Zat Knight surviving from Saturday's win at West Ham, avoided a shock.
"We made nine changes from Saturday and that was for two reasons," said Coyle. One to get a bit of freshness and also to give these lads some game time under their belts because they will all be called upon in the Premier League. It was a hard-fought game and tremendous credit to Southampton."