IF THIS game is an accurate guide, both these sides will be leaving Division III come May.
While promotion-chasing Town were never spectacular, they were extremely solid, and as mission statements go, this was pretty convincing.
Second-bottom Macclesfield, in their day-glo orange away kit, looked like a gang of motorway workers, and it looks more than likely they'll be checking directions to Conference venues next season.
Andy Booth (21 minutes), Pawel Abbott (47), Macclesfield old boy Efe Sodje (69 minutes) and debutant John McAliskey (90) got the goals as Town provided an answer to those who say they don't have enough men capable of finding the net.
It was particularly pleasing to see substitute striker McAliskey head home, not just because he is another good prospect from Town's Academy ranks, but because it provided the perfect revenge for that 4-0 mauling at Macclesfield in mid-December.
Manager Peter Jackson has since said that low was a turning point, and the statistics support his claim.
Town have won 11 of their 15 games since, and Saturday's success, which put them into the automatic promotion zone for the first time this season, was their biggest of the campaign and only the second time they have scored so many in one match (Sunderland, beaten 4-2 in the Carling Cup, was the other).
Jackson's opposite number John Askey was actually savouring his club's record League victory after that Moss Rose mauling, but Macclesfield have managed only two victories in 15 since, and need a miracle to avoid the drop after seven seasons of League football.
Askey, whose agony was compounded by the 86th-minute dismissal of skipper Chris Priest for a second bookable offence, had just one chance to get excited on Saturday, in the 22nd minute, when Colin Little's bullet header from former Halifax man Paul Harsley's cross was blocked on the line by Sodje.
By that time Town were one up, having dominated the opening stages.
Right wing-back Andy Holdsworth set the tone with just two minutes gone, meeting a cross from busy midfielder Tony Carss to fire in a shot which was blocked by ex-Town centre-back Steve Payne.
Frontman Abbott showed persistence in the 12th minute to work the ball into the penalty area and bang in a shot.
That effort was blocked, and when Booth touched the ball on, Abbott crashed an angled shot into the side-netting.
Abbott was again in the action after 19 minutes, this time with an attempted overhead kick from left wing-back Anthony Lloyd's cross.
Macclesfield had managed a couple of speculative shots, both by Matthew Tipton, but Town were by far the stronger, and it was no surprise when they went in front.
Booth's 11th goal of the season had its origins in the approach play of the industrious Abbott, whose perseverance and workrate, even when things aren't going his way, are big plusses.
On this occasion, he first carved out a chance in the edge of the box which was snuffed out, then regained possession to fire in a low, angled effort.
The shot was off target, but fell perfectly to Booth, who finished from close range.
Having survived Little's big chance, Town continued to press forward, and Abbott brought a fine 27th-minute save from Steve Wilson when he neatly controlled Holdsworth's cross and thumped in a rising shot.
Centre-back Sodje, determined to make his mark, came close with an audacious overhead kick a minute later, then looked on in frustration as Wilson collected his header at the second attempt.
Macclesfield might have limited the damage in the first half, but they were left reeling just two minutes in to the second.
Holdsworth's neat through ball freed Danny Schofield down the left.
He advanced into the penalty area and having had an attempted shot blocked, reacted well to send in a teasing cross for the stooping Abbott to head home.
It was a hammer blow for Macclesfield and a real lift for Town, who came close to a third soon after when Booth headed just wide from a Carss free-kick.
Visiting substitute Martin Carruthers briefly raised pulses with an angled shot across the face of Paul Rachubka's goal, but normal service was resumed when Sodje struck on 68 minutes.
Booed by the 468 Macclesfield fans in the South Stand every time he was in earshot, the Nigerian international's only disappointment will be that his clean header from yet another well-placed Schofield centre came at the opposite end of the Stadium!
He was fleetingly in action in his own penalty area, producing a vital tackle to dispossess Tipton.
But in general, Town's defenders had little to do and even less after Priest, already booked after a 76th-minute altercation with Abbott, saw red when he kicked the ball away 10 minutes later.
There was just enough time left for McAliskey, brought on for Booth in the 74th minute, to mark his big day with a glancing header past Wilson from Holdsworth's quickly-taken free-kick.
Four goals, a top-three place and the perfect chance to further underline those promotion credentials at home to third-bottom Rochdale tomorrow.
Town aren't there yet, but they've given themselves a a great opportunity.
Game guide: John McAliskey
A DREAM debut for the homegrown teenager who has already been with Town for 10 years!
The 19-year-old from Golcar, who first linked up with Town at nine and signed on as a scholar on leaving Colne Valley High School at 16, showed both awareness and self-belief in scoring Town's sweet fourth goal in the final minute at the McAlpine.
Danny Schofield was fouled out on Town's right flank and McAliskey takes up the story:
"As soon as I heard the referee's whistle, I nodded to Andy Holdsworth to fire the free-kick in towards me, because I knew the Macclesfield defence was stretched.
"We've played alongside each other in the Youth teams loads of times and Andy knows the way I like the ball delivered.
"He knocked it in perfectly and as soon as I saw it coming towards me I was confident I'd score."
The glancing header marked the end of a big week for McAliskey, whose popularity with his teammates was reflected by the way he was mobbed after the goal.
"I played in the Reserves against Hull on Wednesday, and then got a phone call on Friday telling me to come and train with the first team and prepare for the Macclesfield match," he said.
"I didn't get to sleep for ages on Friday night, and I was pretty nervous when I woke up on Saturday morning, but the players helped me through and I definitely want more of this!"
HOW THEY RATED: Paul Rachubka A second clean sheet in three appearances, although the Charlton loan man didn't have that much to do. Rating: 7/10
Andy Holdsworth Nice and solid in the tackle and always ready to do his bit in setting up attacks from the right wing. Rating: 7/10
Anthony Lloyd Looked much steadier after his dip at Carlisle, and, like Holdsworth, provided good service from the flank. Rating: 7/10
David Mirfin In for the injured Steve Yates and looked cool and composed on his first start since November. Rating: 7/10
Efe Sodje Looked determined to score against his old employers and deserved his moment of glory. Rating: 8/10
Nathan Clarke Once again belied his years to deal comfortably with Macc trio Tipton, Miles and Carruthers. Rating: 8/10
Tony Carss Very solid in central midfield. Tackled and passed well and was at the hub of many attacking moves. Rating: 8/10
Jon Worthington Produced another succession of crunching challenges to ensure Town's superiority in the midfield showdown. Rating: 8/10
Danny Schofield Out of luck in front of goal himself but provided the crosses for Abbott and Sodje to score. Rating: 7/10
Andy Booth As honest and hard-working as ever. That meant a tough afternoon for Macc's back three. Rating: 7/10
Pawel Abbott Never stopped trying and after two blank outings, it was good to see him bag a fourth goal in six games. Rating: 7/10
SPOTLIGHT ON: Tony Carss
Strongly challenged for the honour by Efe Sodje, Nathan Clarke and Jon Worthington, but the much-travelled midfielder just had the edge through his strong tackling, accurate pasing and thoughtful use of the ball. Involved in most of Town's attacks.
Pawel Abbott's headed goal two minutes into the second period really knocked the stuffing out of Macclesfield. It was football's equivalent of boxing's standing eight count, and they never looked like recovering.
Town subs used: McAliskey (for Booth, 74mins), Edwards (for Worthington, 77mins).
Town subs not used: Newby, Scott, Senior.
Scorers: Town: Booth 21mins, Abbott 47mins, Sodje 69mins, McAliskey 90mins.
Referee: Graham Laws (Tyne and Wear).
Bookings: Macclesfield: Harsley.
Sending-off: Macclesfield: Priest (two bookables) 86mins.
Shots on target: Town 6, Macc 1.
Corners: Town 5, Macc 3.
Caught offside: Town 3, Macc 1.
Free-kicks awarded: Town 18, Macc 13..
Attendance: 9,729 (468 away).