Rochdale manager John Coleman challenged his side to prove their 2-1 win over 10-man npower League Two leaders Gillingham was no flash in the pan.
Andrew Tutte's fortunate strike had Rochdale ahead on 15 minutes before Gills' Danny Jackman saw red for a lunge on the goal-scorer. Bobby Grant doubled the advantage after the break before Danny Kedwell notched a late consolation from the penalty spot.
The win made it four games unbeaten for Dale after a shaky start to the season and condemned Gillingham to their first league defeat of the campaign. Coleman said: "I hope that was a statement of intent, but we're not getting carried away.
"We played well but then they did have 10 men for an hour. We could have put to bed earlier though, and should have done, we definitely had the chances to do it.
"I have to take my hat off to the back four, they have a combined age of 78, and nobody in the league has a defence as inexperienced as that, and they were excellent."
Manager Martin Allen admitted the sending off, the third of his short tenure, had cost Gills dear but refused to be too downbeat.
"We had a go in the second half. We tried our best to get back into it, but we were not good enough in the first half," he said. "All the games so far the players have been outstanding. Showing desire and commitment, and in that first half, for the first time, we dipped below that slightly.
"I didn't have a go at them in there, but we weren't quite passionate or fast as usual, though with 10 men we went all out for the point.
"I'm disappointed, but not heartbroken at the result. With the sending off, I thought it was going to be a yellow. But that is three sendings off in my time here, so that will be have to be something we look at.
"We haven't been out celebrating when we have done well, so by the same token, we won't be wallowing either. The players will bounce back."