City face a test of brains as much as brawn in their bid to chalk up successive home wins tomorrow.
Phil Parkinson has warned that MK Dons will offer a very different test to the Port Vale game when his side finally claimed a first victory in 2014.
Parkinson, who is in discussions with Middlesbrough over extending Adam Reach’s loan, revealed it has been a happier training ground in the wake of Tuesday’s win.
City are now looking for back-to-back success – but Parkinson knows it will be far from easy.
He said: “MK Dons offer a different proposition. They play the extra man in midfield so there will be times when they have possession of the ball and we’ll have to be disciplined.
“Sometimes the game can have a different look because there are two different systems on the pitch. But we’ve dealt with that before.
“We have got to make sure we are switched on and play with our brains as well. We’re capable of doing that.”
Boro boss Aitor Karanka was at Valley Parade in midweek to watch Reach, whose initial month with City is up after tomorrow’s game.
He saw the left winger in outstanding form again and a team who finally made the breakthrough after 13 games since their previous win.
Parkinson added: “The lads needed to get rewarded for the way they played. We deserved that.
“We go into the next game in good spirits but equally with the understanding that it’s going to take the same effort to get the points. Anything less than that won’t be enough.”
Parkinson will stick with the same side so goal hero McHugh continues at left back. Matthew Bates is expected to miss the next fortnight and James Meredith is still recovering from his broken foot.
The City chief said: “Mez is progressing but he’s still walking round with a protective boot. He’s still a way off.
“Carl never lets you down and never shirks responsibility on the pitch. All the lads respect him because of his honesty and commitment.
“When he’s been out the team, he trains so well and that’s so important for me personally. He waits patiently for his chance and when he comes in, more often than not puts in a performance.”
McHugh believes his first goal for over a year has changed the whole outlook of the club as they head into the second of three home games on the bounce.
“We thought it was going to be another one of those draws,” he said. “You could sense the relief from everyone.
“The pressure has been eased. If we’d drawn that game again, it would have been a different mindset going into tomorrow.
“Hopefully we can put in a performance similar to Tuesday night and that will give us a good chance.”
Kyle Bennett is likely to get the nod over Garry Thompson on the right flank again after his brightest display since arriving from Doncaster.
Bennett said: “I did enjoy it a lot more than the previous games and we looked more like a team.
“It’s given us a bit of momentum now. That run of draws and losses has gone and we can put a line under it.”