Keith Curle feels his Cobblers players need to have a ‘fear factor’ when they host relegation-threatened Macclesfield at the PTS Academy Stadium on Good Friday (ko 3pm).
Town go into the game on the back of a creditable 1-1 draw with promotion-chasing Mansfield Town last weekend.
It was another example of the Cobblers holding their own against stronger teams in the division, but they have regularly struggled against lower-ranked teams.
Prior to the draw with the Stags, the Cobblers had lost to Cheltenham and 10-man Port Vale and drawn at 10-man Notts County. Curle believes that is purely down to the mentality of his players, and he wants that to change.
“I think sometimes what you find is that when players have the obvious challenges, they take them on board,” said the Town boss.
“Then, at times, when they don’t feel challenged or threatened by the opposition, whether it’s because of their league position, they haven’t got the same mentality.
“They haven’t got the same fear factor in their game, and when that happens we don’t play at the same tempo.
“The messages are exactly the same, the instructions are exactly the same, and sometimes we have started games against opposition teams that are in and around us or below us very well.
“But then we haven’t been able to maintain that, and it is about instilling the foundations of what we want to do. When the game is won you can relax and you can showboat.”
Curle also confirmed he is likely to tinker with his starting line-up again as he looks to the future.
“From now until the end of the season there are going to be changes,” he said.
“If I know what a player can do, and I need to find out what another player can do, perhaps in different systems, then I will change it.
“There could be the emergence of young players, and sometimes I will throw them in and see what they can do, as long as the platform in the team is right.”
The Cobbleres have no injury concerns ahead of their weekend double header, with Friday’s clash with Macclesfield followed by an Easter Monday trip to promotion-chasing Bury.