TERRIFIC Town turned on the style in a performance to make Division III sit up and take notice.
Non-plussed Northampton were left battered, breathless and beaten by Town's ferocity and fluency on a day of standing ovations at the McAlpine.
All three goals had the fans off their seats, the team were roared off at half-time and full-time and even the players taken off - the injured Andys Booth and Holdsworth - were accorded rapturous receptions.
It helped, of course, to have the classy Booth and fiery Lee Fowler back in the side, but manager Peter Jackson deserves credit for a vital switch - that of Tony Carss to the left flank.
It allowed Jon Worthington to start alongside Fowler for the first time, and the pair of them were magnificent in the centre of the pitch.
Northampton boss Martin Wilkinson said his team were "bullied" in midfield, and it was an accurate assessment.
They were also totally outplayed and hopelessly second-best in tackling, winning loose ball and passing it around.
Town's opening goal in the 17th minute illustrated many of these points.
It was Booth who made sure Town mopped up possession with clever control and a lay-off to Fowler, who had already spotted Jon Stead in the ideal slot to punish a flat-footed back-four.
A perfectly timed through ball left Stead in a battle, but he brushed off defender Luke Chambers like an irksome fly before sliding a neat shot beyond the advancing Lee Harper.
While Josh Low planted the visitors' only clear chance against a post shortly afterwards, Town scented blood.
The cranked up the pressure time and again until big-spending Northampton broke once more in the 31st minute.
This time, after efforts by Holdsworth, Stead, Ian Hughes and Efe Sodje had been blocked following corners, Ian Sampson had no option but to fend off Booth's header with his hand.
It earned him a yellow card and Carss the chance to score his first Town goal from the penalty spot. He duly obliged, rattling the ball high into the left corner of the net as Harper went the wrong way.
If Northampton thought it couldn't get any worse, they were sadly wrong.
There seemed little immediate danger as Worthington - on yet another piledriving raid - fed the ball to Stead near the right corner of the box.
With the confidence of a sixth goal of the season under his belt, Stead cut inside and aimed a low left-foot shot for the near post which Harper really ought to have stopped, but he couldn't get down in time and the popular striker had his seventh.
At that stage, the match was already decided and Town had two targets - to keep a clean sheet while seeing how many more they could add to the tally.
The clean sheet was simple, because Northampton were never given chance to get near Ian Gray's goal and, at the other end, who knows how many Town would have scored had Booth's header from a brilliant Worthington cross on 48 minutes found the net instead of the woodwork?
As a first line of defence, Booth and Stead were tremendous, while the midfield simply throbbed with energy, aggression and ideas.
Young Holdsworth blossomed on the right, linking many an attack and justifying Jackson's faith with a couple of close efforts in a storming display.
Carss was far too good for the opposition on the left, linking equally effectively with Rob Edwards on the flank and the strikers in the middle and taunting Northampton every time he had the ball.
If a visitor did get possession, they usually found Worthington or Fowler in their face within seconds and, at the back, Sodje was in no mood to be beaten.
He made stacks of clearing headers and, if he wasn't around, Paul Scott inevitably was. They were superb, and Scott looks like he's played there for years.
Hughes, who finished the game with a gashed head after clashing with Chris Hargreaves, matched Edwards for commitment and it was no surprise that people were queuing up to praise the men in blue and white.
Former striker Martin Smith reckons Town are the best side Northampton have played all season and Jackson, quite rightly, was proud of a biggest and best win of the campaign.
"We have got honest people in this football club and the players are their own biggest critics," he said.
"They know when they've played well, they know when they've played poorly and they know when they've let me and themselves down.
"They will always hold their hands up and this performance shows what they are capable of.
"I am delighted for them as a group of players because some people have been questioning them, but they have deserved this win since the first day of pre-season and I knew it would come.
"After the disappointment of Bury, when we threw three points away, this was the perfect response and I can't praise them highly enough.
"From front to back it was a fantastic team display and I wouldn't want to single anyone out.
"Everyone played their part and we reaped the rewards in great style."
MATCH FACTS - Town (4-4-2)
Ian Gray Had one piece of luck when Josh Low's shot came back off a post but delighted with his first League clean sheet Rating: 8/10
Ian Hughes Finished with four stitches in a head wound but could afford to smile after a super display on the right. Rating: 8/10
Rob Edwards A driving force down the left when he linked really well with Tony Carss. Quick into his tackles throughout. Rating: 8/10
Paul Scott So calm and collected he looks like he's been playing in the centre of defence for years. Went close with a header. Rating: 8/10
Efe Sodje Destroyed everything Northampton looked like creating. Nailed it on the deck and made countless headers. Rating: 8/10
Andy Holdsworth Did a terrific job on the right of midfield, covering acres of ground and always supporting the attack. Excellent. Rating: 8/10
Lee Fowler What a difference he made on his return. Ran 40 yards to make a block and earn a corner to illustrate the spirit. Rating: 8/10
Jon Worthington Drove the team on with his fantastic energy in the centre and proved the perfect partner for Lee Fowler in a great display. Rating: 9/10
Tony Carss Notched his first goal for the club from the spot and impressed on the left wing with his all-round ability. Rating: 8/10
Andy Booth Terrific show and was only missing a goal. He was close with a volley and also with a header against a post. Rating: 8/10
Jon Stead Added another double to his tally and blazed over from a great chance to register his first senior hat trick. Rating: 8/10
Harper, Chambers, Reid, Reeves (Burgess 83), Low, Trollope, Sampson, Dudfield (Richards 37), M Smith, Hargreaves, Carruthers.
Subs not used: Thompson, T Smith, Harsley
While the sponsors chose Stead for his goals it was Worthington's display which was the very heartbeat of the team. He and Fowler were a nightmare for the visitors in the centre and Worthington brought energy, pace and urgency to Town's play.
While Northampton had hit a post at 1-0 down, they knew there was going to be no way back when Tony Carss sent keeper Lee Harper the wrong way and smashed in his first goal (a penalty) for Town.
Subs used: Town: Thompson for Holdsworth 76, Brown for Booth 83. Northampton: Richards for Dudfield 37, Burgess for Reeves 83.
Subs not used: Town: Senior, Newby, Mirfin. Northampton: Thompson, T Smith, Harsley.
Scorers: Town: Stead 17 and 35, Carss (pen) 31.
Referee: Tony Leake (Darwen).
Bookings: Northampton: Sampson.
Shots on target: Town 8, Northampton 2.
Corners: Town 11, Northampton 4.
Caught offside: Town 8, Northampton 4.
Free-kicks awarded: Town 11, Northampton 8.
Attendance: 8,285 (Away: 462).