Rochdale manager Brian Barry-Murphy said his squad had defied the doom-mongers already this season, despite losing 4-3 at home to Oxford.
Dale lost out to a stoppage-time Olamide Shodipo winner after the substitute seized on a hashed clearance from goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
It was the second game running Dale had shipped a goal in stoppage time after being pegged back to 2-2 at Gillingham late on in another Sky Bet League One contest at the weekend.
Barry-Murphy said: “We feel hard done by, when you concede a goal in stoppage time, it’s very difficult to take the emotion out of it, especially coming off the back of conceding another on on Saturday.
“But I was generally very pleased with the way that we played and there are clear signs of progression.
“My excitement at working with this group going forward is only tempered by the initial disappointment of what happened in the last minute of the game.
“I think we’re in a brilliant place as a squad, I’m not trying to spin any propaganda – I will talk about the table for once.
“We were told we’d be down by Christmas and be relegation fodder and the players have raised the expectation levels by their skill and performances.
“We’re on a run where results aren’t what we want but performances have been consistently getting better and our attacking play is as good as anyone in the league.”
Dan Agyei fired Oxford ahead just 12 minutes in after a bright start from the visitors – but Dale grew into the game and turned things around by the break with goals from Matty Done on 22 minutes and Stephen Humphrys on the half hour mark.
Oxford made it 2-2 four minutes into the second half through Elliott Moore’s header and James Henry’s shot from distance on 62 minutes restored their lead.
Matty Lund levelled within two minutes and Aaron Morley almost win it for them, before Shodipo made Bazunu pay for a poor clearance, lofting the ball into an empty net.
Oxford manager Karl Robinson said: “Rochdale are a lot better than people give them credit for and we found them difficult with our shape in the first half – our gameplan worked to an extent because we had three or four outstanding chances in the first 20 minutes but then they got a bit of impetus and then you saw the good, the bad and the ugly from us.
“All the things we’ve been great at weren’t there while all the things we haven’t been asked about before they answered in abundance, heart, desire, asking questions of the backline, being aggressive in pressing even though you know Rochdale play with a freedom.
“They play with no pressure here because there is no expectancy on them – they can play that way and lose and still be applauded. It makes it extremely hard to deal with, tactically.”