Keith Curle says the Cobblers will come up against an 'improving' Cambridge United side when the two teams meet at the PTS Academy Stadium tomorrow.
Cambridge won two and drew two of their opening four league fixtures but have faltered since, winning three of 11 to currently sit two places below the Cobblers in 11th.
But the U's emphatically ended Exeter City's unbeaten record on the road this season when they romped to a 4-0 victory last weekend, and Curle knows his side are in for a tough test on Saturday.
He said: "I watched the game against Exeter and to be honest it could have ended 9-8 either way! It was an open, expansive game and they are a team that's improving.
"The manager is implementing his style of play and I've got a lot of time with Colin and I know he's very familiar with this football club.
"I managed against Colin in the play-offs when I was at Mansfield and he was here - he doesn't let me forget about it!
"We have had two very good games against them and both could have gone either way and tomorrow I see exactly the same because it's two very competitive teams and two managers who like winning games."
Cobblers and Cambridge only met a few weeks ago when Harry Smith's first-half goal separated the sides in an EFL Trophy tie at the Abbey Stadium.
"Both teams had different personnel on that day and both had a sprinkling of the first-team and a sprinkling of players on the fringes," added Curle.
"I've got a good idea of what their team will be with one or two permutations but they've settled into a routine and a formation that's suiting them.
"They've got consistent performers and, likewise, we're also we're striving for consistency."