Cobblers boss Keith Curle felt there were positives to take from his side's second-half display during their first defeat under his guidance, beaten 1-0 by Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday.
Unbeaten in four since Curle's arrival and coming off successive wins, Town were defeated by Kieran Agard's first-half tap-in as the impressive Dons moved into League Two's top three with a fourth straight league victory.
The home team had further opportunities to make it a more comfortable afternoon but their wasteful finishing gave Northampton hope, only for Daniel Powell to miss the away side's best chance late on.
"Obviously I'm frustrated but, within it, there's positives to take and I thought the second-half performance was more us," analysed Curle afterwards.
"We showed them a little too much respect in the first-half and we didn't get that extra half a yard closer to their players that I think could have upset them.
"You've got to give them credit because they defended their goal well and they got numbers back behind the ball in good areas and things didn't quite fall for us.
"The second-half was pleasing but the first-half was an indication that we can upset teams and upset their rhythm and their style if we can get closer to them.
"It's about the direction we go when we get the ball. There were a couple of times when we broke well and then picked the wrong option, but that will come and the understanding will grow."
Curle was pleased with the battling, dogged defending his side produced at times as players threw themselves at shots to deny Dons a second.
"That's the minimum," he added. "You put on the shirt for the club and for myself and you're expected to come off the pitch having emptied the tank of everything you've got.
"I thought we did that today and I felt our second-half performance deserved a goal for the effort and the endeavour."