Keith Curle has warned his Cobblers players they have to show rock-bottom Macclesfield maximum respect when the teams square up in a Sky Bet League Two clash at Moss Rose on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).
The Silkmen have endured a torrid time since being promoted from the National League in May, and currently sit bottom of the Football League.
But they go into the date against Town boosted by their first win of the season on Saturday, seeing off Carlisle United 2-1, a result that lifted their points tally to seven.
It means they are just three points from safety, and only five points adrift of the Cobblers, who have also endured a difficult start to the campaign.
Town travel to Cheshire off the back of their first defeat in five matches, and their first under new boss Curle, having lost 1-0 at Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday.
Macclesfield’s win over the Cumbrians brought an end to an unwanted record of 37 League matches without a win stretching back to December, 2011, so does Curle think the fact they have at last broken their duck is a good thing for his team as they head north?
“I put pressures and demands on my team to perform, and then results will take care of themselves,” said the Cobblers boss.
“On Tuesday night we need to show Macclesfield the same respect as we did to MK Dons.
“If we sit off of them then they have players who can play, and players that can hurt you, so we have to show them the same respect, and get half a yard closer to them than we did in the first half on Saturday.
“We have to earn the right to play our football.”
You could hardly get more contrasting surroundings for the Cobblers to play in when you compare the palacious Stadium MK to the more modest Moss Rose ground.
But Curle says he and his players’ attitude and application for Tuesday’s game has to be exactly the same as it was for the weekend.
“On Saturday you go to the glamour team of the division in MK Dons and the stadium and facilities they have to offer, then on Tuesday you go to the other extreme,” said Curle.
“Macclesfield is a club that has just been promoted from the National League and are fighting for their lives.
“The changing rooms and facilities don’t compare to MK. but out mindset has to be the same.
“On Saturday I thought our mindset was good, we went out and were competitive, and we need to have those same levels of competitiveness at Macclesfield, as they won’t give us anything.”
And he added: “Tuesday’s game is a challenge, and this whole season is going to be about challenges.
“Macclesfield are fighting for the lives.
“Even though we are only 13 or 14 games into the season, they know their season is going to be about survival.
“They got their first win of the season on Saturday so they have got that monkey off their back, and now they will be looking to build on that.”
Curle is also keen to see how his new team reacts to suffering that first defeat of his reign, which began with two draws and two victories.
“We are in a learning industry, whereby if you won every game it would be fantastic, but every time you win somebody else has to lose,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We are trying create a culture and environment here where we analyse the defeats and negatives and turn them into positives.
“If people make mistakes, we want them to learn from them and not make them again, and there are always areas we think we can improve on, individually and collectively.”
The Cobblers welcome back midfielder Matt Crooks from suspension for tonight’s game, but there are fitness concerns over Shay Facey, Ash Taylor, Leon Barnett and Dean Bowditch who all missed the weekend fixture.
Striker Junior Morias is yet to return to full training following the hamstring injury he suffered on September 1, but he is hoping to be back in action by November.