Keith Curle sensed there was a different mood among his players when they sat in the changing room and digested their deeply disappointing 2-2 draw with Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
It was not the first time the Cobblers have been left feeling dejected this season following their heavy loss at Scunthorpe United last month and the costly late goals conceded against Crawley and Morecambe, among others.
But after being pegged back by Oldham on Saturday, and therefore denied an elusive place in the top seven of League Two, Curle felt his players were even more downbeat than usual.
"I think there's a difference now because it's not just disappointment, it really hurts," he said. "It's not just sad faces and people not making eye contact and putting their head down, you can tell there's a genuine frustration in that changing room.
"That's because we need to win games and we need to get into the top seven and we want to operate in the top seven and we want to kick-on.
"There's lots to take from the game but if you don't win, you learn from it and that's the message we've said to the players.
"We're not in the top seven yet but the aim is there, the ambition is there and the hunger is there."
After praising his side's first-half display at Boundary Park, Curle was less impressed with what he saw in the second 45 minutes.
Explaining why, he said: "We didn't get hold of the ball, we didn't move the ball with tempo in the right areas and we didn't look for that forward pass, which is what we did very well for a large majority of the first-half.
"In the second-half we found it difficult to get hold of the ball and make the right decisions, which does happen sometimes, but if your pass and moves aren't on and people aren't available, put the ball in good areas and get us up the pitch and regroup.
"We took too many chances and there were too many losses of possession with too many wrong decisions when we had time to get on the ball in midfield.
"We've got to move the ball quickly, get it into wide areas and then go and hurt them, but we took an extra pass and an extra touch rather than do the basics."