David Forde warned Pompey they need to do the nasty stuff to become the real deal.
The Blues keeper pointed to his side having to overcome a rugged approach from rivals if they are to become genuine contenders for promotion this season.
Luton stood toe-to-toe with Paul Cook’s side on Tuesday night at Kenilworth Road – and came off worse as they fell to a 3-1 loss.
The Blues have continually got the better of sides who have chosen to try to play an open game against them.
It has been opponents who have shut up shop or gone down a more direct route who have exposed flaws.
Forde believes that is the challenge they now have to face up to as Stevenage come to Fratton Park on Saturday.
He said: ‘It’s nice when you are on a great surface, full stadium and teams want to go toe-to-toe with you.
‘What’s let us down in the past in this league is the nastier side of things.
‘When people want to fire in balls at us we have to deal with that.
‘We’re starting to really work through our shortcomings now.
‘Once we start to iron them out we’ll progress.
‘This league is all about consistency. Northampton won 10 on the bounce last season. It’s consistency which gets you out of this league.’
The nature of the victory at Luton on Tuesday night has bred confidence going into Saturday’s return to Fratton Park.
Forde has sounded a pragmatic voice off the back of the impressive performance at Kenilworth Road, though.
He said: ‘It’s just a foundation. It’s still early, early doors.
‘We need to remain grounded. We’ve got to remain focused and centred.’