Ben Tozer says the Cobblers are ‘relaxed’ and better mentally prepared than any of their rivals for the play-off challenge ahead.
The former Swindon Town man says the Cobblers will go into their semi-final showdown with Cheltenham Town at Sixfields tonight (Thurs, ko 7.45pm) in good shape, and says the disappointment of failing to claim an automatic promotion place has long since disappeared.
Just three weeks ago, the Cobblers were looking favourites for a top-three finish, but defeats to Cheltenham, Bradford City and York City, as well as a 0-0 draw at Wycombe Wanderers - a run of one point gained from a possible 12 - put paid to that.
But morale in the Sixfields camp has been lifted over the last few days of the season, which was ended with an impressive 2-2 draw at Port Vale and a comfortable 2-0 win over Barnet.
And Tozer believes the fact their top-three hopes were dashed when they were will be a help as they go into the play-offs.
“I think it’s good that the disappointment of not getting into the top three came earlier,” said Tozer.
“If we had missed out on promotion on the last Saturday of the season, then we would have gone into the play-offs a bit downhearted.
“But we are prepared for it.
“We have been prepared for the play-offs for the past three games now, and I think we’re more relaxed, and more ready for it than any of the other teams.”
And he added: “The team’s performance in the past three games has been much better than the one in the York game for sure, which was a bad day at the office.
“But we now have to take our form into Thursday against Cheltenham.
“They have beaten us twice this season, and I don’t think they have deserved it either time, and now is the time to beat them.
“It will be a tough game, but we feel like it is our time now to beat them, go on to the final, and hopefully claim promotion there.
“Cheltenham are a good all-round team.
“Their front three are lively and good players, but I think we are more than capable of doing a job.
“We are looking forward to it, and are confident.”
If the Cobblers can get past Cheltenham over two legs, then it will be a Wembley final against either Bradford or Burton Albion on Saturday, May 18.
It is a tantalising prospect for everybody involved with the Cobblers, and although Tozer admits he and his team-mates can’t think too far ahead, he admits they have been thinking about what would be a special day.
“To play at Wembley would be a dream come true for every player,” said Tozer.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but then again we can’t be negative either.
“It is going to be tense on Thursday, and it will be great to have Sixfields full and rocking, because we haven’t really had it like that since I have been here.
“It would be good to give the fans something to really cheer about, and to get them a day out at Wembley as well as us.”
Tozer is also unfazed by the fact the Cobblers have to play the first leg of the semi-finals at home.
“The way they organise it is that the ‘better’ team gets the home leg second, but I’m not too fussed,” said the Plymouth-born utility man.
“The last three games our form has been good. We know what we can do at home and the last two away games we have been brilliant, so I’m not too bothered about it.
“When it comes to Thursday we have just got to do a job on Cheltenham.”