Billy Davies was officially taking charge for the first time since he agreed to return to the club he so nearly took to the Premier League promise land during his first stint.
The Scot admitted he had unfinished business in the east midlands and he was greeted like a returning hero when he walked out on to the City Ground turf before the contest.
His troops had won just one of their last eight in all competitions but the new manager's arrival had clearly galvanised them as Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan made a series of fine first-half stops.
Bogdan was eventually beaten around the hour mark when Andy Reid waited for the ball to drop before burying a sweetly-struck volley into the corner of the net.
Yet Craig Davies, whose arrival as a substitute last week helped Bolton come from behind to beat Burnley, made another goalscoring contribution off the bench to earn Dougie Freedman's men a share of the spoils, although they had to hang on with 10 men following Marcos Alonso's dismissal.
Bogdan's busy afternoon began inside the first five minutes when he flung himself to his right to tip away Henri Lansbury's vicious effort, while the Trotters stopper also kept out Radoslaw Majewski shortly afterwards.
Reid was the next to test the 25-year-old, who reacted with uncertainty to a dipping, swerving effort which went wide via the goalkeeper's wrist.
Forest continued to bombard the Bolton box and Bogdan produced perhaps his finest save of the afternoon by repelling Simon Cox's effort which seemed destined for the top corner.
The one time Bogdan was left stranded, Billy Sharp could not quite apply the finishing touch to Greg Halford's head across.
Freedman's visitors began with more purpose in the second period as Mark Davies fired wide.
Yet Forest still seemed the more likely to break the deadlock as Lansbury brought the crowd to their feet by dancing past two before unleashing an effort which was deflected narrowly over.
The hosts finally got their reward, though, when Lansbury's flick found Reid, who timed his first-time volley perfectly to leave Bogdan with no chance.
Forest's joy was almost short lived as Chris Cohen inexplicably gifted the ball to Kevin Davies, who just had to find a way past Karl Darlow, yet the goalkeeper stayed big to make the stop.
Freedman turned to replacements in the shape of Craig Davies and David Ngog and the two combined to produce a 77th-minute leveller.
Jay Spearing won the ball in the middle of midfield and Ngog raced into the box before cutting back for Craig Davies, who swept home to double his Bolton tally after scoring his first goal for the club last weekend.
Lansbury almost squeezed an effort between Bogdan's legs before Alonso, who had earlier been cautioned for a foul on Craig Dawson, picked up a second yellow card with 10 minutes to go for upending Reid.
Forest sensed blood yet substitute Darius Henderson squandered their best chance by glancing a header well wide.
- Sports & Recreation
- Billy Davies
- Henri Lansbury