Paul Tisdale made a tactical master-stroke after a brace from makeshift striker Scot Bennett saw Exeter win 2-1 at Fleetwood.
With five men at the back the Grecians frustrated their high-flying hosts before hitting them late on the counter.
It paid dividends, Bennett's double within five second-half minutes cancelling out Matty Blair's opener.
"It was fantastic," said Tisdale
"I was critical last week (in the loss to Newport) when they didn't play to play. This week that's what they've done and they were brilliant.
"They got what they deserved, they were impeccable.
"Even when we went a goal down I still believed we were in it. I thought it we started with that five men they'd have no counter. Then after the hour mark we wanted to be more attacking. That's exactly how we did it."
Fleetwood wasted a number of good chances to score, David Ball lifting one over the bar just before the break and Gareth Evans flashing one across goal just after.
Exeter had keeper Artur Krysiak to thank on a number of occasions, the stopper denying Steven Schumacher and Antoni Sarcevic before Blair finally found a way past, beating his man and slotting home at the back post.
The goal opened up the game and two fine moves both kick-started by Alan Gow turned the tables.
A perfectly-timed pass put Bennett through for the first, the second came as he beat full-back Conor McLaughlin, Bennett, a centre-half for 60 minutes, converting the cross.