Kaid Mohamed marked his Cobblers debut with the decisive goal as he helped his new side to an opening-day win over Mansfield.
Mohamed’s header on 23 minutes was the difference between the sides but Town could have won by a greater margin with Marc Richards and Ivan Toney both spurning opportunities to put the game beyond the Stags’ reach.
In his first selection of the new season, manager Chris Wilder handed Northampton debuts to three players - Mohamed on the left of midfield, Danny Alfei at right-back and John Joe O’Toole in the number 10 role.
O’Toole played in behind Richards, who made his first Town start for almost a decade following his free transfer return to Sixfields in the summer.
It was Mansfield’s Alex Fisher who had the first glimpse of goal, latching onto a long, diagonal pass to clip a shot over the advancing Matt Duke but well beyond the target.
Lee Collins sidefooted into the side-netting after Stags keeper Sascha Studer had completely missed a Chris Hackett free-kick from the right wing.
The warning shot was not heeded by Mansfield, who allowed Mohamed a free run at the back post to power in a header for the club’s first goal of the campaign.
Darren Carter’s corner in was a good one but the winger should never have been given the space to complete a comfortable finish.
O’Toole might have done better with a difficult volley minutes later after Carter’s run into the box had been blocked by a covering defender.
Ryan Tafazolli should have levelled the scores in first-half stoppage time but Duke pulled off a superb one-handed save to his right to push the effort to safety.
Town made a bright start to the second half and Richards headed an Alfei cross narrowly over the top after good build-up play in midfield.
Hackett himself saw a left-footed shot deflected wide of the target after Richards and the recently-introduced Ivan Toney created some confusion in the box.
Carter then had a swirl from distance, with Studer taking it at the second attempt, and Hackett’s first touch let him down as he met a Gregor Robertson cross.
Richards should have put the game to bed 15 minutes from time, driving wide with his weaker left foot after great work by Toney to outmuscle Ritchie Sutton.
Toney had an almost better chance shortly afterwards, failing to make a good connection with an Ian Morris cross from the left touchline.
They were almost made to pay for their profligacy when Mansfield mounted some late pressure but Town weathered it and sealed a well-deserved win.
Cobblers: Duke; Alfei, Collins, Diamond, Robertson; Hackett, Ravenhill, Carter, Mohamed; O’Toole; Richards
Subs: Toney (for O’Toole 56), Morris (for Carter 76), Horwood (for Hackett 79)
Not used: Tozer, D’Ath, Moyo, Archer
Mansfield: Studer, Beevers, Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli, Taylor, Murray, Fisher, Heslop, Palmer, F Bell
Subs: Clucas (for F Bell 54), Hearn (for Palmer 54), Clements (for Taylor 80)
Not used: Riley, McGuire, Marsden, A Bell