The afternoon began in hope but ended in despair for Chelsea as Manchester United retained the Barclays Premier League title.
Substitute Andriy Shevchenko's second-half strike was cancelled out by Kevin Davies' added-time leveller in a 1-1 draw against Bolton but the Blues were also left reeling from the loss of captain John Terry with shoulder injury in the first half.
The England defender was stretchered off after clashing with team-mate Petr Cech and Bolton striker Davies and could be out of next week's Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow.
Chelsea began surprisingly slowly considering they knew a result better than United's at the end of the afternoon would see them crowned champions.
Bolton, with nothing but pride to play for, gave their hosts little room in midfield in the opening skirmishes.
But in the seventh minute, the title-chasers should have gone in front when Michael Ballack's low cross from the left found Didier Drogba at the far post.
However, instead of planting the ball into the net, the normally deadly Ivorian shot high and wide of the gaping target.
But with the game only 10 minutes old, Chelsea were dealt a major blow when Terry went down in agony clutching his arm.
The Blues captain received lengthy treatment on the pitch before he was replaced by right-back Juliano Belletti and early reports suggested he had partially dislocated his shoulder.
Chelsea continued to push for an opening goal but found Gary Megson's side in no mood to roll over.
Indeed, Bolton's Matthew Taylor underlined the threat the visitors posed at the other end when he fired a 30-yard drive just wide of Cech's left-hand upright.
Gavin McCann became the second name in Chris Foy's book when he was adjudged to have fouled Ashley Cole. The booking appeared to be harsh as TV replays showed he won the ball fairly before colliding with Cole.
The free-kick, some 30-yards from goal, provided Frank Lampard with the chance to go one better than Drogba.
But the England midfielder smashed his effort straight into the Bolton wall and another opportunity to break the deadlock was lost.
Chelsea's frustration was growing but Bolton's rearguard refused to buckle.
Joe Cole worked wonders on the right flank to get free of Taylor but the England midfielder's cross lacked the accuracy required and it fell harmlessly onto the top of Ali Al Habsi's goal.
In the 42nd minute, a cross from Lampard was turned over the bar by Bolton's McCann as the Blues increased the pressure.
Moments later, another cross from Joe Cole was collected easily by the Bolton keeper and, not for the first time this season, the home side looked to have ran of ideas.
In an effort to re-ignite their title push, Grant replaced Claude Makelele with Shevchenko at the start of the second half.
The move was clearly designed to put more pressure on the Bolton defence and in the 46th minute Florent Malouda almost broke the deadlock.
The French winger let fly with a volley from fully 25-yards which Al Habsi tipped against the crossbar.
Seconds later, Joe Cole got to the touchline and pulled the back for Malouda to try his luck again but this time his effort was deflected to safety.
But Chelsea were labouring in the heat. A 20-yard effort from Joe Cole was deflected over the crossbar in the 54th minute but, in the main, the home side were devoid of inspiration.
That fact was underlined by Ballack, who tried his luck from even greater distance three minutes later but he too found the upper tier behind Al Habsi's goal.
A fantastic run by Drogba almost brought them a goal on the hour when he left the Bolton defence trailing in his wake. He sped into the penalty area but Al Habsi pulled off a remarkable save to keep the scores level.
The deadlock was finally broken moments later when Lampard's shot was turned home by the alert substitute Shevchenko.
But El Hadji Diouf almost grabbed an equaliser in the 65th minute but Cech was equal to the task.
Joe Cole almost added a second for the Blues in the 74th minute but his effort was punched clear by Al Habsi.
Bolton almost grabbed an equaliser when a Davies header came down off the crossbar and Ashley Cole cleared the ball off the line after it hit Stelios Giannakopoulos.
But the Chelsea fans realised it was not going to be their day when news of Manchester United's second goal from Ryan Giggs spread around the stadium.
Their despair was made worse in the dying seconds when Davies shot through a crowded area to level the scores and end Chelsea's hopes for good.