A forthright exchange of views at half-time helped inspire Cobblers' 1-0 victory at Stevenage on Tuesday as Keith Curle made sure his players knew full well that their first-half efforts were not good enough.
The Cobblers were hardly outplayed by Stevenage in the opening 45 minutes at the Lamex but they spent long periods on the back foot as Boro won a host of corners and free-kicks in dangerous areas.
But Town limited them to just one clear chance, with Charlie Carter's header well saved by David Cornell, before they improved in the second-half, aided by Harry Smith's introduction.
Smith opened the scoring with a precise and powerful header on 56 minutes and despite the striker then seeing red, Cobblers held on to all three points.
"To be honest I was glad to get into half-time at 0-0 because we could readjust and reset our focus and make the substitution," admitted Curle.
"The changing room is growing and the pleasing thing is when you can go in at half-time and you're able to criticise players without fear of damaging egos or upsetting personalities.
"It's the understanding that the information I give them is honest, informative, professional and tactical. It's not about any personal issues, it's about what I want, what I need them to do and why I need them to do it.
"If they're not prepared to do it, there will be other people that are and that is a challenge for players - to take criticism onboard and have an understanding why a player has been dug out.
"Don't do it, learn from your mistakes and get us on the front foot as a team."
On what disappointed him in the first-half, Curle explained: "It wasn't the attitude, it was just the decision-making in the first-half which wasn't great and wasn't in gear for the first 45 minutes.
"We took an extra touch and therefore we didn't get on the front foot and people came short to supply the pass to go in behind and then we end up with one man less going forward.
"But in the second-half we looked more of a threat with the two men up front."