A Fratton Park victory and progress in the FA Cup – both outcomes have been in short supply.
Yet Paul Cook admitted he had been left at his flattest point as Pompey boss having watched the 2-1 win.
I felt at Notts County last week we played really well, we looked bright. On Saturday we never looked bright, it was like everyone wanted someone else to do it – we have to be better than thatPaul Cook
Adam McGurk was the difference against Macclesfield, netting twice in the first half to maintain his impressive start to life at Fratton Park.
They were sandwiched between Kristian Dennis’ equaliser, achieved in bizarre circumstances after charging down Brian Murphy’s clearance.
Gareth Evans had an effort cleared off the line by David Fitzpatrick but otherwise it was largely uninspiring against the non-leaguers.
The Blues now find themselves in tonight’s draw for the second round following a first FA Cup victory in five-and-a-half years.
Yet their manager was left dissatisfied.
Cook said: ‘We just never played well. It was everything I don’t like about a team.
‘We weren’t at it, we didn’t have that edge, we were laboured, the amount of times we were clearing it and hitting our own player, the amount of times we gave possession away.
‘We have a habit of making ourselves feel not confident and that’s what football can do to you on good and bad days.
‘My job is to work hard with these players.
‘We are a good group but you can see at the minute we keep tinkering to try to get what we feel is the right team. We just haven’t fallen on it.
‘Saturday was the first time I genuinely felt flat watching them and the Cup can do this to you.
‘I have been here before with Daventry when we (Chesterfield) beat them 2-0 a couple of years ago.
‘I felt at Notts County last week we played really well, we looked bright.
‘On Saturday we never looked bright, it was like everyone wanted someone else to do it. We have to be better than that.
‘I also didn’t think we played well at Newport and didn’t think we played well against Accrington here, if you want to throw that in the hat.
‘Last week we are a bit down from not winning, this week we are still down but have won.’
Not since April 2010 against Spurs had Pompey won an FA Cup fixture.
Cook added: ‘We are pleased we won but it’s going to be a tough winter for us because we have to work hard and we have got to be better.
‘I thought McGurk’s goals were a credit to him.
‘I thought (Marc) McNulty’s movement was really good and supporters saw the way he fires shots off.
‘But it was flat afterwards even, though we won, because we all want to be better.
‘The players have a responsibility, I have a responsibility. I had a go at the players in there, I don’t mind saying things to people’s faces.
‘All-in-all we are still working away and what we say to supporters, like every team, is let’s stay with each other.
‘It’s important that negativity doesn’t creep in about formations and different stuff because no matter what anyone says, football is a tough game.’