Cobblers boss Keith Curle revealed he dished out some honest feedback to his players between their disappointing defeat to Macclesfield Town on Saturday and Tuesday's first win of the season at Swindon Town.
Town's disappointing start to the campaign reached a new low at the weekend when they limped to defeat at home to pre-season relegation favourites Macclesfield, who were without a manager at the time.
Without a win in four games across all competitions, and with the season already threatening to unravel, Curle decided it was time to get tough with his players and share some home truths in a bid to get back on track.
And it seemed to do the trick judging by their hard-working, fully-committed performance at the County Ground on Tuesday evening when a resilient defensive display was rewarded with Andy Williams' winning goal on 67 minutes.
"As a manager, when things get tough, you have to be honest," said Curle afterwards. "And when players aren't doing what you need them to do, you have to tell them.
"You do it in the right way but you have to be honest and the players have to be honest enough that, if somebody tells you you're not doing enough, you understand that.
"That was the message (before Tuesday) because we've got some good players and we've brought in the makings of a squad that is competitive in this division.
"They got told in no uncertain terms that the demands I put on them haven't been met and they accepted the criticism and they showed how far hard work can take you."
Curle also provided an brief injury update on Scott Wharton after the on-loan Blackburn Rovers defender was forced off shortly after Williams' goal at the County Ground.
"He just felt his calf tightening up and it's one of those situations where it's precautionary," Curle added.
"He's a professional and he doesn't want to make it worse. It needs to be assessed and in the next 24 to 48 overs we'll have a better understanding and we'll wait to see what Nacho (physio) says."