The loss of Nolan is a huge blow - and not just because of his match - winning heroics when Wanderers became something of a bogey team for United in 2001 and 2002.
Trotters boss Gary Megson said: "We all need to show the sort of spirit Kevin has displayed during this injury. If we had more of his kind of player it would make life a lot easier.
"A lot of harsh words were said after the Wigan game - but perhaps the most appropriate was when one of our supporters shouted that the way we played there was unacceptable.
"I couldn't agree more. That was the first time I felt that we let ourselves and our supporters down. I want to see a big reaction to that."
Megson admits his team could not face a sterner test. He added: "Our future won't be dictated purely and simply by one result against United. But there has to be a massive improvement."