Gulls winger Jordan Chapell registered a double in the space of six second-half minutes at Northampton, to wipe out Jacob Blyth's first-half goal and inflict a 2-1 loss on the Cobblers.
Blyth had put the hosts in front at Sixfields when he headed home one of several fine Danny Emerton crosses.
But Torquay improved markedly after the break and carved out a number of chances, two of which were taken with great aplomb by former Sheffield United wide man Chapell.
He cited the inability to add further goals to Blyth's headed effort during a period of dominance as the main reason his team was beaten.
"In the first half it was just a question of how many goals we would score," he said. "We tortured their left-back but we didn't get enough first contact on his crosses and we should have gone in two or three up.
"Both of their goals have come from our possession and to get done on two counter-attacks when we're on the edge of their box is very, very disappointing.
"We weren't anywhere near strong enough in the back areas of the pitch in terms of winning headers, getting cut, getting hold of the ball and being brave enough to make good decisions when in possession.
"I'm really annoyed with one or two of the lads but I won't name names and that will remain behind closed doors."