An uplifting evening brought Fabrice Muamba back to a football stadium for the first time since his cardiac arrest but he had to watch Tottenham Hotspur canter to victory in pursuit of Champions League qualification, which left Bolton Wanderers still deep in the relegation mire.
After Harry Redknapp's side won consecutive league games for the first time since January the manager again denied that speculation regarding him potentially becoming England's coach had affected his side's form. Asked if he was disappointed not even to have been interviewed for the job, Redknapp said: "If they had interviewed me or Roy [Hodgson], he certainly wouldn't have gone for the interview if he was going to be interviewed alongside someone else. I certainly would not have done either.
"That wasn't going to work – going back to your club with your tail between your legs. They wanted Roy and that's good enough. Good luck to him.
"I am not bothered. I am lucky, I have got a great job. There are blokes about cleverer than me managing lower-division clubs. I am lucky I am managing a top-five club, one of the best clubs in the country. I've come up the ladder from Bournemouth; I'm very well paid."
Owen Coyle's Bolton side are third-bottom and conscious that, even if they defeat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and Stoke City on the season's final day, two wins for Queens Park Rangers from their remaining games means Wanderers will be relegated – unless there is an eight-goal swing.
"My disappointment is that it was self-inflicted," said Colye. "We bounced back in the second half and came back with all guns blazing but then we shot ourselves in the foot. The second goal happened when we missed a couple of tackles and at 2-1 behind you need a bit of resolve. We succumbed then to a third goal which gave us too much to do. A two-minute period has cost us an awful lot in a game we could have won.
"It is not a particularly nice feeling at the moment and this league can be very cruel and unforgiving. We need two wins to give us a chance of staying up."
There was a better feeling at the start when Muamba walked alone on to the pitch to receive a rapturous reception from both Bolton and Spurs fans. They had also been the witnesses to his collapse on the White Hart Lane turf during these sides' FA Cup quarter-final on 17 March – and his appearance before them again brought tears to his eyes and a bowed head during an experience that is the latest step in a remarkable rehabilitation.
After all this emotion these two sides began the business of trying to resolve their respective ambitions. It was Redknapp's team who looked the more likely to be successful during the opening half-hour and would enter the break in the lead, though Bolton had rallied by that point, with Dedryck Boyata crashing a close-range left-foot shot over the bar moments before Mike Dean ended the half.
Before this, after 25 minutes, Gareth Bale collected possession near half-way and skated through the Wanderers midfield and defence down his familiar left corridor, reaching the by-line before skimming a ball across Adam Bogdan's goal that cried out to be finished.
Coyle had sent out his side in a 4-4-2 formation with Kevin Davies and David Ngog as the central strikers and Chris Eagles and Martin Petrov on the flanks to supply them. But it was a defender, Boyata, who produced Bolton's only moment of width as the half entered its final phase: the right-back moving down the Spurs left and delivering a ball that neither Kevin Davies or Ngog could finish.
This woke Wanderers. Petrov smacked in a cross that was returned by Eagles and Ngog connected for Brad Friedel to make virtually his first save of the contest.
But then, almost immediately, came the Spurs opened the scoring with a 25-yard humdinger from Luka Modric that gave Bogdan no chance. The opportunity came from a questionable corner won after Rafael van der Vaart's right-foot effort was repelled, and Sandro appeared to handle the ball. The referee saw nothing wrong and, when the corner was won, the Dutchman passed straight to Modric, who was lurking to the left of the area and the sweetest of strikes gave Spurs the lead.
Moments into the second half Petrov launched a diagonal pass at Kevin Davies and, though crowded out, the centre-forward was about to make a vital contribution to the equaliser.
In what became the match's pattern for a brief passage, Bolton dominated midfield. After some neat interplay from Nigel Reo-Coker and Tim Ream, moving their side forward at pace, Bolton again surged at Spurs and forced a throw-in on the right. When this was delivered Kevin Davies headed the ball into the area, Ngog flicked it on and Reo-Coker smashed his shot beyond Friedel.
Bolton forced a corner that had Spurs scurrying and Chris Eagles skimmed the roof of the net from close range. But two quick sucker punches killed off Bolton.
First Van der Vaart chested the ball to his feet and passed to Bale before taking off on a 40-yard run to complete a one-two with the Welshman that ended with the ball in Bogdan's net.
That was on the hour. Two minutes later Emmanuel Adebayor had Spurs third. This time the excellent Van der Vaart made a short pass to Modric near the centre circle and his vision found the run of Aaron Lennon, whose cross was turned in by the centre-forward.
It threatened to become a rout when Adebayor – who Redknapp said, "of course" he would like to make his loan permanent in the summer – added his second on 69 minutes after Bale slipped the ball to him and he rounded Bogdan before putting it past him into the net.