Lawson D’Ath’s second-half header brought the Cobblers losing streak to an end as they started 2015 with a welcome point against Southend United.
Shaquile Coulthirst gave the visitors the lead with a scrambled finish after a Duke error and Northampton struggled to find their way back into the game after going behind.
But D’Ath headed in a well-placed Marc Richards to level the game and procure a first league point since the win over Stevenage on November 22.
All three of Town’s new signings made the starting line-up, with Ricky Holmes, Jason Taylor and Brendan Moloney in for Chris Hackett, Stewart Murdoch and Danny Alfei.
There was also a reshuffle in defence as Ryan Cresswell and Evan Horwood replaced Zander Diamond and Gregor Robertson, who were both injured in the previous match, at Tranmere Rovers.
D’Ath was also recalled to the starting 11 (for Kaid Mohamed) and capped an energetic first five minutes with the game’s first shot, an effort from distance which had goalkeeper Daniel Bentley worried as it flew past his right-hand post.
Cresswell, playing against one of his former clubs, then struck the bar with a well-timed run and header which beat Bentley and bounced down to safety.
Moloney showed signs of his ability to join in with attacks when he burst clear down the wing and cleverly cut inside before releasing a tame shot with his weaker left foot which ran well wide of the mark.
A chance to volley came the way of Holmes and he drew a good, if somewhat exaggerated, save from Bentley and Richards guided a header off target from a clipped Moloney cross.
But the Cobblers survived a scare on the half-hour mark when a free-kick from former Sixfields trainee Ben Coker struck the angle of post and bar and Shaquile Coulthirst somehow contrived to put the rebound against the same piece of woodwork.
Southend looked dangerous on the counter-attack but so too did the Cobblers, with John-Joe O’Toole making a mess of one and Holmes driving a shot over the bar after another.
Southend were handed the game’s opening goal on a plate in the first minute of the second half, Matt Duke parrying a shot at his front post and Coulthirst diverting the rebound over the line.
After that, panic seemed to set into the Cobblers’ ranks; where before it they were happy to keep the ball and play short passes, after going behind it was all the big boot, and almost always directly to Southend defenders.
They did manage to provide bright play through their wide attackers and it was from a bold Holmes run which led to the equaliser.
Bentley parried his shot out to Richards on the left wing, who fired in an excellent cross which the unlikely figure of D’Ath headed into the corner of the goal.
Hearts were in mouths all around the ground in the final five minutes when David Worrall headed wide at the back post and committed a foul on Evan Horwood in the same position moments later.
The defence parted for Southend’s other substitute, Jason Williams, in the first minute of added time but for some reason he dribbled away from the target and his chance was gone.
Prosser saw red for a second booking deep into timed added on at the end of the game and at the second phase of the resulting free-kick, Emile Sinclair had half a chance to win the game but two covering defenders threw themselves at his left-footed shot in what was the final action of the match.
Cobblers: Duke; Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood; Holmes, Taylor, Byrom, D’Ath; O’Toole; Richards
Subs: Sinclair (for O’Toole 56), Mohamed (for Holmes 83), Hackett (for D’Ath 90)
Not used: Snedker, Langmead, Carter, Tozer
Southend: Bentley; White, Thompson, Prosser, Coker; Atkinson, Leonard, Timlin, Coulthirst, Payne, Corr
Subs: Worrall (for Timlin 74), Williams (for Coulthirst 83)
Not used: Clifford, Smith, Deegan, Binnon-Williams, Bridge
Away fans: 801