Assistant boss Chris Beech felt Rochdale rose to the challenge as they saw off local rivals Bury 1-0 despite going a man down.
Scott Hogan's 36th-minute goal proved decisive with the Shakers unable to make numerical advantage count after Peter Vincenti's dismissal for a second bookable offence soon after.
"It was a very big test of character, probably more so from the decision of Peter getting sent off," Beech said.
"It was a foul, as was the first one, and once the referee has made his decision we had to respond to it. We re-organised at half time and the lads worked really hard, stuck to the plan and waited to see what Bury would do. We had the lead and it was a case of challenging them to beat us rather than beating ourselves.
"Sometimes it can lure the opposition into a false sense of security having an extra man and it certainly poses the question 'how good are you with the ball?'
"We just allowed their two centre-halves to have the ball, go with two banks of four behind the ball and just look to engage around the halfway line to try and nullify any passing opportunities through the centre of our team."