While there were solid, hold-them-in-your hand excuses for the Cobblers’ defeats at York City and Southend United, this was a loss that was entirely deserved and comes with no caveats.
Northampton were acceptably good in the first half; they had better territory than Torquay and – largely through Danny Emerton – got in some good attacking areas.
As Aidy Boothroyd rightly pointed out, they failed to make ‘first contact’ on the steady stream of excellent crosses Emerton put in and they ultimately paid the price for that.
Because in the second half Torquay decided that, actually, they weren’t just going to make up the numbers, they were going to swap things around a bit and make use of the very good players they have at their disposal.
One such player is Karl Hawley, a proper, hard-boiled centre-forward who might as well be carved from granite and marries such acidic qualities with a smoothness of touch that led directly to Torquay’s first goal.
This was a difficult day for the Northampton defence. With the exception of Kevin Amankwaah, none of them can lay claim to a good game (the same could probably be said of the midfield, with Emerton being the odd one out in that department).
The return of Matt Heath next week will help strengthen that area – Heath is a combative player and brings something to the side that neither Ben Tozer or Lee Collins does, namely a wealth of experience in the position.
But the player the team perhaps missed the most against Torquay was Kelvin Langmead. His defensive skills are matched only by his skills of leadership and his ability to inspire those around him in difficult situations.
The team was in a difficult situation on Saturday and they really could have done with the wise head of Langmead to steer them through the choppy waters.
That debate is a bit of an irrelevant one because Langmead won’t be back until November and it risks distracting from the real issues at hand.
Again, it is too early in the season to make any real judgements but three defeats in four games does not make pretty reading and this loss was the most concerning of the three because there was no controversy to it.
It was just a straight-up defeat, to a team that performed better (when they needed to) and took their chances, something the Cobblers most definitely did not. And even Kelvin Langmead wouldn’t have been able to do much about that.
Another couple of good saves to add to the vast collection he has quickly compiled at Northampton ...7
Did well as an attacking force in the first half and was the pick of the defence in the second ...6
Had an uncomfortable afternoon against the strength of Hawley. Was not one of his best games ...5
Won his fair share of headers but was exposed when the team tried to play a high defensive line ...5
Will definitely not want to see Torquay’s second goal again, and a piece of play that was so uncharacteristic of him ...5
Northampton’s best outfield player by some margin, his energy and pace created several good goalscoring chances ...7
Worked hard enough but didn’t contribute that much in the vital areas of the game ...5
Slick and smooth on the ball but didn’t play with enough dynamism. Needs a bit performance soon ...5
Provided some good play in the first half and appeared to play with an extra edge against his former club ...6
Was left to fend for scraps and didn’t have any clear-cut chances to get himself on the scoresheet ...5
A well-timed jump and header for the goal, although by his own admission he should have scored by that point ...6
CLIVE PLATT (for Morris 76)
Still feeling his way back but almost got on the end of a low cross towards the end... 5
ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC (for Blyth 88)
No real chances to shine but put in one excellent cross
Not used: Snedker, Dias, Toney, Hooper