Chris Wilder admits defeat at Stevenage on Saturday would be fatal to Cobblers’ play-off hopes.
But the Town boss retains the belief that his men can get the result they need to keep them on course for a top-seven finish.
Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Cambridge United at Sixfields means Cobblers are currently five points adrift of the play-off places with five games to go.
And with Stevenage currently in range - they are sixth, five points ahead of Town -a win at Broadhall Way this weekend would be a sizeable shot in the arm.
“We’ve got to put a big performance in on Saturday and try to get three points,” said Wilder.
“Whatever game it is, we’ve got a responsibility to give our maximum, whether we’re not playing for anything or if we find ourselves in a situation where we can do something this season.
“You look at the fixtures on Saturday and we all do, we all look to see who can beat who and what results can happen, and the biggest favourites in and around us are Plymouth (who host Mansfield).
“All the others have potentially got games where they might not pick up any points and we understand we need to go to Stevenage and win.
“They’ll be looking at us and thinking they can put us to bed by knocking us out of the race, and I do believe if we’re being realistic then if they do beat us on Saturday that is our aspirations gone.
“But any result can happen on Saturday and we can quite easily find ourselves two points outside of the play-offs with four games to go.
“That’s what we’re aiming to do. We are looking to make sure we get our result and relying on other results, which is a disappointing situation because we feel if we’d had a decent Easter it would have been in our hands.
“But it isn’t and the only thing we can affect is a decent performance on Saturday and doing what we need to do.
“We have to keep believing and go right to the end.”