Alex Wakely is steeling his side for a key first session on day three with Northants' game at Derbyshire currently in the balance.
Wakely hit a superb 106 as the County surpassed Derbyshire's first innings total of 260 all out.
But it could have been so much better, with Northants only able to take a 29-run lead as they were bowled out for 289.
Steven Crook hit 60 but he and Wakely were the only visiting batsmen to get going.
Derbyshire then had Ben Slater (53) and Wayne Madsen (52no) to thank as they ended day two on 147 for four.
Ben Sanderson added to his five first-innings wickets with figures of two for 23, while Seekkuge Prasanna grabbed two for 49.
And Northants know they now need to make sure they dominate the morning session on day three if they are to give themselves a chance during their run chase.
"It's pretty even at the moment and it looks like an exciting game," Wakely said.
"It seems to be the story of the season so far - we get ourselves in good positions and then find a way of giving the game back to the opposition.
"It is frustrating.
"We did all the hard work and if Crooky could have got a hundred or I'd got 150, the game would have been very different.
"Tomorrow is the key day for me, I think both ourselves and Derbyshire will be looking at the first session as key.
"The 30 overs in the morning will probably dictate where the game goes."