A goal just before half time completely changed Macclesfield manager Sol Campbell's team-talk as his side let slip a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 to MK Dons on Saturday.
The Silkmen were the better side at the Moss Rose Stadium for the opening half after Campbell made nine changes to his side for the visit of Dons, and deservedly led through Nathan Cameron's 19th minute opener. But after hitting the bar and forcing keeper Stuart Moore into a big save, Macclesfield let slip their lead when David Wheeler headed in four minutes before the interval.
Dons took control in the second period and could have won by considerably more, but goals from Callum Brittain and Kieran Agard's 18th of the season saw them over the line comfortably.
Campbell was left to lament Wheeler's equaliser just before the break, saying it completely changed the complexion of his team-talk.
"In the first 45 minutes, it would have been better coming in 2-0 up rather than 1-1," said the Macclesfield boss. "The whole game changed, the chat to the lads had to be different. But we were good for the first 45 minutes, we surprised them a bit. But we had to maintain it at 1-1, keep the concentration, focus and drive. We'd put ourselves in a good position in the league to get ourselves out, and we can't let it slip.
"Goals change games, going 2-0 up would have been great for us and given us a great platform. But we have to learn to stay in games. When you look at MK Dons, a lot of the things they did were quite basic but effective. We need to defend in a basic way, and do the job right, not allowing guys to get back in. Just defend properly, cross properly, tackle and keep the ball at the right times.
"MK Dons are a top side, they were expected to win because their budget is much bigger than ours. You can't be expected to beat them over the course of the season. You might get a lucky win, but over the season against that budget, it's hard. We've had a good go, they're a tough side."