In the near 12 months since the Cobblers last visited Plainmoor, Torquay United have built an entire new stand down one side of the pitch.
Gone is the old wooden main stand, at the base of which the travelling supporters gathered in 2000 to hail Kevin Wilson and his promotion-winning Northampton side.
In its place is a steep, shiny modern construction that is home to the press facilities and the seats allocated to away fans this time around, fans who were left in raptures when their captain Kelvin Langmead scored an injury-time equaliser right in front of them on Saturday.
But while Torquay’s rebuilding has been off the pitch, the ongoing restructuring job at Sixfields has been limited exclusively to playing matters.
Although the Gulls’ quality has been diluted since the teams last met in Devon way back in January, the gulf between the two teams has reduced to such an extent that it may now be non-existent.
Eleven months ago, Ben Harding and Luke Guttridge were recent additions in midfield but the bulk of the surgery was still yet to be done - for example, Adebayo Akinfenwa was only given six minutes at the end of the game, a prospect unthinkable today.
The emergence of Lewis Hornby and the close-season capture of Chris Hackett have enhanced the midfield area, while Akinfenwa is scoring freely and on Saturday Clive Platt showed signs of improvement as he builds mobility in overcoming a long-standing back problem.
Ben Tozer’s throws are a major weapon and Langmead typified the new spirit by breaking his nose in the act of scoring the team’s dramatic late equaliser.
The most pleasing performance, though, came from Clarke Carlisle. The defender needed a good game at Torquay after a couple of difficult ones on his return to Northampton colours, and he provided it, winning key headers and successfully undertaking a slightly risky policy of intercepting the ball before it reached the feet of lone striker Rene Howe.
So this game can definitely be classified as another step in the right direction, both for Carlisle and for the team, who would almost certainly have lost a match like this a year ago.
They might not have any nice new facilities to show for it, but Northampton is a club that is going forward.
Dealt with everything with aplomb in difficult conditions for goalkeepers ...7
Throw-ins caused the usual problems but won’t be happy with delivery in open play ...6
Harshly booked for a supposed foul on Howe and put his body on the line to score ...7
Relished the conditions and was dominant in the air throughout ...7
Cool and calm but slipped up on one or two occasions ...6
Got into some good areas and fired a few shots but Torquay double and sometimes triple-marked him ...7
Unlucky not to score with a deft lob and got through lots of work in midfield ...7
Struggled with the physicality of the game and the terrible playing surface ...6
Offered very good defensive cover on the left but guilty of overplaying at times ...6
Was penalised for far more fouls than he actually committed on a frustrating afternoon ...6
Played a few passes with a weight Luke Guttridge would have been proud of but made the wrong decision a couple of times ...6
JAKE ROBINSON (for Hornby, 71mins)
Provided some energy down the left with Huws switched to a more central position ...6
Not used: Snedker, Mukendi, Moult, East, Dias