All of the pre-match talk centred around Craig Bellamy's return to Coventry, nine years after the striker - who remains the club's record signing - capped a disappointing sole season when he criticised the club upon his departure for Newcastle.
But it was another former Sky Blue frontman in Bothroyd who stole the points for second-placed Cardiff with a deft finish to convert Chris Burke's 86th-minute low cross, just three days after manager Dave Jones urged England boss Fabio Capello to take a look at him.
The result was harsh on a Coventry side who had given the high-flying Bluebirds a real run for their money.
It was from Bellamy's cross that Ben Turner tugged back Michael Chopra to leave Nuneaton-born Peter Whittingham with the chance to open the scoring from the spot after just five minutes.
But Gary McSheffrey levelled on the stroke of half-time after Mark Hudson had inexplicably given the ball away in midfield.
Cardiff's devastating wealth of attacking firepower is certain to cause many teams problems this season.
Bothroyd - who spent three largely underachieving years at Coventry from 2000 to 2003 - partnered Chopra in attack, with Bellamy, Whittingham and Chris Burke all in midfield.
Coventry were unchanged from the side who on Saturday recorded the club's first win at Ipswich for 16 years.
Bellamy, predictably, received a chorus of boos from the Ricoh Arena faithful from his first touch until his last.
But he and the visitors were celebrating early on when Whittingham slotted home a penalty - his third in the last three meetings between these two sides - after Turner hauled down Chopra.
The game was 18 minutes old when Coventry full-back Martin Cranie tested Bluebirds goalkeeper Tom Heaton with a low drive, while Keiren Westwood had to be at his best to turn away Gabor Gyepes' snap-shot at the other end.
Hudson, partnering Gyepes in central defence, headed narrowly wide from a Bellamy corner for the visitors just after the half-hour mark.
That looked set to be the last chance of the first half until Hudson played a suicidal pass straight to Aron Gunnarsson who surged forward and fed McSheffrey on the left, and he duly cut inside Kevin McNaughton before beating Heaton.
Cardiff fell off the pace as the first half closed out and that continued at the start of the second half against a Coventry side who grew in confidence.
Yet neither goalkeeper had been forced to make a real save in the second half as the clash reached the 70-minute mark.
That led to Marlon King and Jason Koumas being introduced by Aidy Boothroyd and Jones respectively.
But with the game seemingly heading for a draw, it was left for Bothroyd to steal the glory, providing the clinical finish to Burke's centre.