In the grand scheme of things, the Cobblers’ defeat at Milton Keynes Dons on Tuesday night doesn’t really change anything at all.
They were always likely to lose to a team who are in the top six of the league above, playing on their own ground and with a working knowledge of how to beat Northampton that dates back to just last month.
And they were even more likely to lose to the pass-it, move, pass-it, move Dons when they were playing with a man fewer than them.
Ishmel Demontagnac’s ‘red mist’ moment in the closing stages of the first half probably wasn’t the key factor in the defeat but it certainly didn’t help the Cobblers’ momentum or ability to build attacks.
It was understandable only in the sense that even highly rational people lose control sometimes, but it was also deeply unprofessional and wildly irresponsible. The suggestion coming from the club is that he will certainly be punished for it.
Demontagnac will now miss three games and, with Danny Emerton off his sick bed again, and Chris Hackett showing signs of a gradual recovery to his good form of last season, he is unlikely to be missed too much.
As for the game, well, it was always going to be a home win wasn’t it?
Even the most blindly optimistic Northampton supporter will not have expected their team to win at stadium:mk and so it does little to impact on the overall picture.
Statistics like six defeats in seven games are worrying but – to resort to dreadful cliché – the league is the most exigent priority and two back-to-back home matches give the players and the manager a very good opportunity to amend a concerning run of form.
Despite being short-handed and against technically superior team on Tuesday, they did manage to produce some half-decent play against Milton Keynes, although the home side’s devotion to the purer side of the game meant they were always going to have plenty of possession.
Encouraging performances came from (unsurprisingly) Matt Duke, who seems to play well in every game, and Matthew Herriott, who was the pick of a midfield three with some piercing runs and clever touches.
The star man was Jacob Blyth, who was a willing runner all night and really should have got himself on the scoresheet after a fine, bullocking run in the second half.
Both players will have provided food for thought for Aidy Boothroyd’s selection for the Scunthorpe game on Saturday.
Another top-drawer outing with plenty of saves, although there was a nervous moment in the first half when a cross hit his far post ...7
Not an easy night at all and was really given a torrid time by Banton during long spells. Switched positions around towards the end ...5
Was pulled around a lot by the fluid MK Dons’ system but did well enough when called upon and was fine on the ball ...6
Not really his type of game and there were none of the fireworks that surrounded his performance at Bristol Rovers last time out ...6
Didn’t look comfortable when in the final third on his left side and had a bit of a difficult night at times ...5
Found wanting at times against highly-accomplished opponents but there was little wrong with his effort and commitment ...5
Something of an improvement on recent weeks, played with more energy and got on the ball in dangerous positions ...6
A very encouraging debut from a player who saw lots of the ball and almost always used it to good effect ...7
Signs of the old creative thrust and one or two very nice moments; was fouled plenty of times too ...6
Arguably the best Cobblers player on the night – was full of running and movement and should haves scored in the second half ...7
Moment of madness was the main contributory factor in the loss and he deserves every critcism that comes his way for it ...3
DANNY EMERTON (for Hackett 64mins)
Tried to provide some spark and was busy around the Dons box ...6
IVAN TONEY (for Deegan 85mins)
JJ HOOPER (for Harriott 89mins)
Not used: Snedker, Platt