Chris Wilder accepts the last time the Cobblers played Tranmere was the ‘final straw’ for several members of the squad.
Town lost 2-1 at Prenton Park in December in what was their 12th loss in 15 games but go into the weekend fixture at Sixfields in much better form, having lost just twice in 2015.
In the aftermath of that game, 11 players left the club and three arrived - Jason Taylor, Brendan Moloney and Ricky Holmes - and the turnaround in form has been dramatic.
“There were a few words in the dressing room afterwards that day,” said Wilder, who admitted in his post-match interview on that occasion to being under substantial pressure at the club.
“You want players to do well because they’re decent lads but you have to make tough decisions.
“We had to make brave decisions about getting players out and turning the team around and I think that was a pivotal point, a key point in our season, where we knew we had to make changes.
It’s important to stand by the process of what you do to put good football teams together but that was a real bad day up there (at Tranmere)Cobblers boss Chris Wilder
“The amount of changes you have to make you never know, but I think it’s fair to say that was the final straw with some of the players.”
It has felt like watching a different team since that day and considering the fact that 11 players left the club in January, that’s a pretty accurate assessment.
Of the 11 which started at Prenton Park, only two - Matt Duke and Lee Collins - are certain to be in the side for the return fixture while three of the side and two of the substitutes used are no longer at Sixfields.
The team’s excellent recent run came to a sudden halt at Plymouth last weekend with a tired performance leading to a 2-0 loss, but it’s all a far cry from the bad times of late 2014.
“You have to handle the lows as well as you handle the highs and I was disappointed at the weekend when seven days before we were jumping through hoops because we’d won at Shrewsbury,” he said.
“It’s important to stand by the process of what you do to put good football teams together but that was a real bad day up there (at Tranmere).
“We were losing players left, right and centre at that time and to lose two defenders in the first 20 minutes was ridiculous.
“We got ourselves back in the game, conceded to go 2-1 and then had chances to get something but it was a difficult period for everyone concerned, me included.”