Karl Robinson admitted Dons have had to change the way they approach playing the big teams in the Championship after a string of defeats.
Having been caught out against the likes of Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Burnley, the manger felt Dons’ expansive style of play was leaving them at risk at the back.
Not only changing the style of play, Robinson also changed personnel in his back line, introducing Joe Walsh and George Baldock to a back-line which had previously picked itself.
Since the change, the results have been positive for Dons. Drawing against Cardiff City, they were unlucky not to come away with all three points against Middlesbrough, but did enough to beat Derby County at the iPro Stadium on Saturday, restricting the Rams to half chances throughout.
“We’ve never had to do it before,” said Robinson. “We’ve always been one of the best footballing teams in the league, so we’ve not had to approach games like that before.
“We’ve had to learn and evolve as a team, myself as a coach and in the backroom.
“We still believe in what we do, we’ve not changed our style one bit, but there have been elements out of possession where we need to improve.
“We’ve always pressed high, but that can leave us open. Recently, we’ve defended space better and in key areas. It changes from game to game.
“We’ve been more savvy. Our game understanding has been the best it has ever been recently.
“We haven’t been at our best, but we have mentally. We’ve been cuter in the way we’ve played.
“Joe (Walsh) and Matty (Upson) being out didn’t give anyone any pressure, and Lee (Hodson) not playing for four months wasn’t pushing Jordan Spence. We did what we did to benefit the club.
“We brought George back, he’s taking his opportunity.
“George is a great kid, he works hard, he’s consistent and he deserves to be in the team. No one can argue with that.
“His aggressive nature and his tenacity are his key components.
“And being from Milton Keynes, it means a little bit more to him. The fans were really happy to see him back.”