The Cobblers probably didn’t think they were about to embark of a voyage of discovery when they set off for Aldershot on Tuesday morning.
Although, the winter wasteland that provided the backdrop to the drive down to Hampshire and the non-stop snow at the ground would have given several squad members the distinct impression the bus had taken a wrong turn somewhere.
But there were three new discoveries made at the EBB Stadium in Northampton’s latest midweek adventure.
The first was that, despite what certain people with a vested (financial) interest in health and safety might say, it is perfectly acceptable to play football on a pitch covered with snow.
You won’t get the most pure footballing spectacle you’ll ever see but it will be entertaining. The question has to be asked how many matches through the course of history could have been played in similar circumstances and were not?
Such ground-breaking concerns are not front and centre for manager Aidy Boothroyd, though. He will be more interested in the way his team operated a system that might just be the key to turning around the side’s dire away form.
A lot of league two teams attempt to play the 4-2-3-1 formation popularised by the elite European club sides but the reality is such systems usually morph into a 4-5-1 with the emphasis on defending and spoiling in midfield.
There were no grand ideas about Northampton’s set-up at Aldershot, it was a rudimentary five-man midfield that used Luke Guttridge as an anchor or Lewis Hornby as the number 10 dependent on the state of the game at the time.
It worked, though, and bodes well for future away assigments, of which there will be four in the next five games in a sequence that could enhance or diminish the team’s league position.
The final discovery is Hornby. The midfielder gets better with every game and his ascent to the first-team ranks, especially if the team are going to play five in midfield, gives Boothroyd a plethora of options and an extra, reliable, player on which to call when making tactical deliberations.
In the Aldershot snow, there was plenty to make those who care about the Cobblers feel warm inside.
Did exceptionally well in conditions that made visibility and handling very difficult for the goalkeepers ...7
The fabled throw was not the weapon it might have been but in general play he rarely put a foot wrong ...7
Unruffled throughout and executed his part in the training-ground move for the decisive goal to perfection ...7
Was not caused too many problems by the Aldershot forwards in another composed and durable showing ...7
A first-rate display of overlapping full-back play; posed problems on the outside of Robinson and should have won a penalty ...8
Played a key role in the five-man midfield system both defensively and in attack. Buried penalty with confidence ...8
Acted as the anchor in the game’s first half and then as the schemer as it progressed in a very good midfield performance ...8
Performed the unglamorous central midfield duties to good effect and played his part in a solid team effort ...7
Really starting to look the part in the middle of the park and has a very good habit of never giving the ball away ...8
The curve continues to move upward for Robinson, who is getting better and more confident with every game ...8
A couple of cheap fouls put the side under pressure at times but this was generally a good outing for the big man ...7
Substitutes not used: Snedker, Wilson, Turnbull, Moyo, Demontagnac, Artell, Akinfenwa
Man of the match: Lewis Hornby