This was not a game to live too long in the memory, but the lasting repercussions of Birmingham City's first three home points of the season could prove so important.

Bolton Wanderers are no Derby County, but everything points to the side that Sam Allardyce left behind being near the bottom of the table come season's end.

In which case, to claim your first two victories of the campaign inside five weeks against two of your relegation rivals is good work.

"When you've got the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds coming up, now's the time to pick up points from the teams you realistically think you're competing against," said Bruce. "No disrespect to Bolton, but you've got to try and target them, Sunderland, Derby.

"We could have nicked a point against Chelsea, we were a minute away from beating Sunderland and, apart from West Ham when we didn't deserve anything and Middlesbrough when we were horrific, I've been very pleased."

What perhaps gave Bruce most pleasure about this win was that his team put right their Riverside routing without having to make too many changes.

Rafael Schmitz and Daniel de Ridder were both fit to start, as well as last season's defensive stalwart Martin Taylor but Bruce opted to make just three changes.

Franck Queudrue reappeared for the first time since being substituted at Stamford Bridge in Blues' first game of the season. He was a straight replacement for Stuart Parnaby, who did not even make the 16 while Radhi Jaidi missed out on a reunion with his old club.

The other man left out was Mikael Forssell, relegated to the bench to allow Bruce his preferred formula of just one up front, Cameron Jerome, freeing Olivier Kapo to perform in what is seen as his best role, tucked in behind the lone striker.

Gary McSheffrey and Sebastian Larsson returned in the two wide roles and it did not take long for this shuffled side to make an impact.

Bruce had promised that Blues would be better than they had been at Boro. That would not have been difficult but, within the first ten minutes, they had proved more of a threat than in that entire tame effort on Teesside.

Jerome's pace earned an early chance as he almost cashed in on a mix-up and had the chance to lob goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, only to finish weakly. Then, after being fed by Kapo, Larsson cut inside onto his left foot, only for his shot to hit Abdoulaye Meite on the rear.

Blues then went close to breaking the deadlock when, after being lucky to win a free-kick for Mikel Alonso's tackle on a subdued McSheffrey, Larsson dinked in a neat free kick and Jaaskelainen went full length to save Kapo's header.

That woke up Bolton who began to menace, largely through El-Hadji Diouf.

Kevin Nolan went close with a low right-foot shot just wide, before Jlloyd Samuel conjured up a trick long forgotten in his latter days across the city when he showed a decent bit of skill before testing Maik Taylor at his near post with a fierce shot.

And, after winning a corner with one sublime piece of trickery, Diouf's flagkick went all the way through, only for Andy O'Brien to head a spinning ball over the bar from almost under-neath the crossbar.

But Blues rode their luck and, eight minutes from the break, were ahead. The defence were wrongfooted when Larsson checked inside again on the right to deliver a teasing left-foot cross, and Kapo drifted free at the far post to tuck away his second strike of the season.

Blues might have extended their lead after the break. Larsson's right-foot shot was tipped over by Jaaskelainen then, when a bustling Jerome was brought down in full flight on the edge of the box, the Swede went even closer, his right-foot free-kick over the wall hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing to safety.

There was another escape for Bolton when, from his corner, Johan Djourou's header was blocked on the line by Gavin McCann.

Bolton did rally but they reckoned without a determined defence who proved a sight more resolute than they had a fortnight earlier and that first home win was sealed when Blues somehow survived the visitors' best move.

Starting from his own penalty box, Daniel Braaten took a return pass from Diouf on the right flank and strode into the inside right channel, expecting to score what would have been a stunning goal. But he took a touch too many and that allowed Stephen Kelly to slide in and block with a superb cover tackle.

"Diouf was their big threat but I thought Stephen Kelly played him extremely well," said Bruce. "We stuck at it, defended properly and got our just rewards."