Bolton Wanderers 0 Manchester City 0
Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce predicted a tougher encounter against rejuvenated City and so it proved.
City's resilient backline was on top of a shot-shy Bolton attack which included City old boy Anelka.
Indeed, Stuart Pearce, who dashed off after the game on a scouting mission, will feel his team deserved the victory and only Joey Barton will know how he didn't settle a dreadful derby 20 minutes from time.
Instead, he missed a sitter and Wanderers collected another point towards their ambition of European football.
However, as an advert for the Premiership, Soapstar Superstar is eminently more watchable.
It may have been a derby but there was nothing passionate about the atmosphere inside the Reebok.
Only 1,600 City fans made the journey up the M61 compared to nearly 3,000 last season and there wasn't much for them to cheer during an insipid first period.
It might have enlivened proceedings had Nicky Hunt scored in the first 30 seconds but his right-foot drive from the edge of the box missed the target.
Ivan Campo, back from suspension, also peppered Nicky Waever's goal but Bolton, without injured skipper Kevin Nolan, were second best for much of the half.
City certainly felt they should been ahead at the break. Darius Vassell just failed to connect with a teasing Barton cross while Bernardo Corradi wasted a superb through ball from Stephen Ireland by blazing over.
Ricardo Gardner was booked for fouling Barton but to the midfielder's credit he tried to persuade the referee to reverse his decision.
Barton picked up a yellow card himself after half-time for bringing down Kevin Davies and the Liverpudlian is now set to miss next week's game with Blackburn
And that gives him plenty of time to sharpen up his shooting as his miss after 70 minutes probably won't be bettered this season. He hung his head in shame after firing into the side-netting from three yards with the goal gaping.
The chance came from Vassell's cross that might even have been turned in by the luckless Corradi on its way through to Barton.
At least it brought the crowd to life despite leaving Jussi Jaaskelainen waiting to make his first save.
Weaver, also virtually redundant, had to intervene minutes before Barton's howler. Bolton worked the ball to Anelka and the Frenchman's low shot was paddled away to safety by the England wannabe.
City did get the ball in the net in injury-time but anyone of four players were stood in an offside position.