Before kick-off, Pulis was shaken by the news that his proposed move for Demba Ba for a reported £7.1million had broken down after Hoffenheim's Senegal striker failed a medical.
But the manager's mood was soon changed thanks to a comfortable win, with the goals coming either side of half-time.
Stoke made the breakthrough in the 37th minute following a corner from Tuncay. Bolton failed to clear their lines with striker Johan Elmander heading the ball across his own area and Higginbotham took advantage, marking his return to the side by forcing it home at the back post.
The visitors were rocked back on their heels in the 62nd minute when Stoke made it 2-0. Tuncay sent Etherington racing clear and the winger was tripped by Knight in the box and won a penalty.
Etherington dusted himself down and although Jussi Jaaskelainen deflected the ball onto the post, it trickled over the line.