At half-time it could have gone either way for Barnsley at rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon.
Having seen an early Cauley Woodrow goal wiped out by Joe Pigott's header, the Reds were lucky to get into the interval on level terms as Jake Jervis somehow missed a back-post tap-in while Adam Davies pulled off a brilliant save from Will Nightingale's effort from distance.
At the the interval Daniel Stendel challenged his side to prove they are promotion challengers and they responded in style.
Second-half goals from Kieffer Moore, Mamadou Thiam and Cameron McGeehan showed that the Reds mean business this season with a 4-1 win which extended their League One unbeaten run to seven games.
“At half-time it was a test,” Stendel said. “We needed to win against the bottom of the league. We started well, then it was 1-1 and Wimbledon had a big chance to go ahead.
“We needed a reaction and we scored really early. The last 20 minutes we were more controlled and more like a team from the top of the table.
“When we were 1-0 up we played a little bit lazier and lost the ball too easily. We played too fast, we lost too many balls and Wimbledon were better.
“The second half we controlled the game more, we played well and scored three goals. He has so much more.”
A routine win looked on the cards as Woodrow banged in his eighth goal of the season in fine style early on.
The former Fulham man hit a delicious volley on the turn from a corner to set Barnsley in the right direction.
But they hit a stumbling block and Pigott drew the Dons level nine minutes before the break with a glancing header from a free-kick.
The Reds, who then lost Woodrow to injury, survived until the break where, with Stendel's words ringing in their ears, they stepped it up a level.
Moore's 15th of the season restored their lead with a trademark backpost header six minutes after the restart before he turned provider for Thiam's rocket from just inside the area.
McGeehan made the game safe at the end as he fired home after arriving late at the end.
Stendel got the reaction he was looking for and it was one of a side with real promotion credentials.