Cheltenham manager Mark Yates said he thought he’d picked the wrong team at Sixfields on Saturday after watching the Cobblers score through the two methods he highlighted as being their best weapons.
Town burst into a two-goal lead after only 12 minutes with Adebayo Akinfenwa and a Billy Jones own goal - at a Ben Tozer long throw - giving them an early advantage.
Cheltenham rallied to get it back to 2-2 soon afterwards, and Darryl Duffy won it with a late goal as the game finished 3-2.
But when the score was 2-0, Yates was full of self doubt that he had got his selection wrong, and fallen behind to the two methods he spoke about at length in his pre-match press conferences.
“After the first 10 minutes, in which we started awfully, I thought I’d picked the wrong team for the game,” he said. “We’d worked on a lot of things in the two days before the game and all that could have been out of the window straight away.
“We spoke about (Adebayo) Akinfenwa and we spoke about the long throw and after 10 minutes Northampton had got a goal from each of them.
“Credit to the players, they turned it around by sticking in there and manning up. We changed the system and we changed a few players and it wasn’t with Tuesday’s Cup tie in mind.
“I wanted three combative midfield players and I wanted to get them to protect the two centre-backs, which I thought they did superbly well.
“We could have got a bit of a tanking but I think we got what we deserved in the end.”
Cheltenham’s recovery from a two-goal deficit to take all three points underlines their top-three qualities and few would bet against them being automatically promoted this season.
They also proved they are capable of learning and adapting during games, as Yates felt they got better at dealing with the Tozer throw as the match progressed.
“We had to defend for our lives sometimes but between that I thought we played some really good football,” he said.
“Their long throw is a massive weapon and we didn’t deal with it in the first half but we learned from it.
“We started getting our head on things and then if you do that you’re going to start getting some fouls as well, which is what happened.”