MK Dons haven't been at their best in recent weeks, according to their manager, but quickly need to get back to winning ways again.
Neilson, speaking after Dons' 0-0 draw with Bury on Tuesday night, said while his side are still picking up points and harbouring remote dreams of a play-off spot come the end of the season, they have been far from their best in recent weeks.
After going six undefeated, Dons have struggled to find top gear in their last three outings, drawing with Bolton and Bury while losing to Oxford at the weekend.
And though they had decent chances against Bury, Neilson feels Dons had to upper their game.
"It was disappointing," he said. "We created a couple of chances but we could have been better. We've played better than this, and we need to get back to the levels we know we can do.
"It's a difficult place to come, it's a difficult surface and against a team fighting for their lives. We had flashes, but we didn't sustain it. There will be highs and lows all but we need to make sure we get back to winning ways on Saturday.
"There will always be ups and downs throughout the season, you have really good performances and poor ones, but the key is to pick up points. We've got another one today, but it's a difficult place to come - Swindon came here at the weekend and got beaten."
Neilson handed a league debut to 19-year-old Ben Tilney at left back, covering for suspended Joe Walsh and injured Dean Lewington. After a shaky start, when he gave the ball away in a dangerous area, the defender grew into the game with confidence, and twice came close to snatching the only goal of the game.
Perhaps more importantly though, Tilney impressed his manager.
Neilson said: "That first instance was just his inexperience and didn't get a read of the pace of the game. But he recovered well.
"It's a great day for him, I'm really happy for him, the lads in there are really happy for him too. He's a good kid and he's got a bright future."
The result leaves Dons still in 14th in League 1, but they missed the opportunity to climb above Charlton, who lost 1-0 to Oldham.
Now 11 points off the play-offs, Neilson still feels the top six has to be the aim.
He added: "It has to be the aim but we aren't getting too far ahead of ourselves.
"We're breaking it down into five game periods - we got 10 points in the last five games, now we're trying to beat that if we can.
"We got one today, and we have 12 to play for, so we need to win as many as we can."