It was his first appearance for Sunderland's first team since February 2011 and it will be a shame if it is his last with his contract expiring soon because there was nothing he could with either Bolton goal.
With the former Manchester United player stationed at right-back, Sunderland missed his poise at the centre of their defence.
He found Bolton targetman Kevin Davies too much of a handful and never looked comfortable when under pressure.
The Scotland international looked about as useful at left-back as he normally does at right-back which says it all really because he is at best a gritty player.
The former Leeds defender's shortcomings were exposed as he was caught out twice by Kevin Davies for both Bolton goals.
He made a nuisance of himself every time he got the ball but lacked support from his midfielders.
The skipper failed to impose himself on the midfield exchanges and picked up his customary booking for a silly challenge.
He might not be the most eye-catching of players but he kept Sunderland ticking over nicely thanks to a simple pass-and-move modus operandi and cleverly set up Nicklas Bendtner's goal.
He showed that you can not keep a good man down with a cracking free-kick to give Sunderland a brief lead and then showed he can work out how to overcome double-marking.
His days on Wearside might be numbered with his loan spell from Arsenal due to finish soon but he served a timely reminder of his goal-scoring prowess with a sumptuous finish as he took advantage of poor Bolton defending.
He still does not look as though he has recovered from two knee operations and nothing seemed to be going right for him before he went off with cramp.
He should avoid watching Match of the Day tonight because the words 'the goalkeeper will be disappointed with that' are bound to follow replays of James McClean's free-kick.
The on-loan Manchester City defender looked a formidable presence and while he kept James McClean quiet in open play that was not enough.
The former Middlesbrough centre-half did well in the air and while he was caught out when Bendtner equalised he showed plenty of character by sticking to his task.
He could leave Wearside with his head held high following a gritty display that showed the American has quickly found his feet in England.
The left-back coped well with Fraizer Campbell and then sent over the in-swinging cross that allowed Kevin Davies to salvage his team a point.
He worked his socks off up and down and line and helped break the deadlock with a delightful cross that Kevin Davies volleyed home.
His purposeful forward runs gave Bolton penetration from midfield but he gave away the McClean free-kick that looked as though it would deny his team a point.
The midfield was there for the taking but the former West Ham skipper did not have the ability to capitalise in a crucial area and went off injured.
The former Manchester United player flattered to deceive on too many occasions.
He showed why Sunderland were so keen to sign him last January by bullying the opposition back four and volleying in a superb goal and then nodding in a potentially priceless equaliser.
- 20 K. Westwood
- 25 S. Kyrgiakos
The on-loan Manchester City full-back - now Sunderland's third-choice left-back - cut an unhappy figure when he came on in the closing stages.
Ahmed El Mohamady
The Egyptian struggled to make an impact after replacing Campbell.
- 15 D. Vaughan
- 18 D. Meyler
- 17 Dong-Won Ji
- 22 J. Jääskeläinen
- 12 Z. Knight
- 3 Marcos Alonso
He had an instant impact when he replaced Eagles down the right wing and had a hand in Davies' equaliser.
He kept Bolton on the front foot after replacing Reo-Coker.
He helped invigorate Bolton when he came on for the ineffective Ngog.
- 29 M. Sordell