After falling behind to Sam Winnall's opener, Ardley must have thought it was going to be one of those afternoons when Irons keeper Sam Slocombe plunged to his right to keep out a Charlie Sheringham penalty.
Worse was to follow as Chris Iwelumo headed Scunthorpe 2-0 up before the break, but Ardley insisted he hadn't needed to raise the decibel levels at the interval to inspire his team before Michael Smith, Harry Pell and Chris Arthur hit back.
"In the first half I thought we were lively and it looked like we were going to get the first goal," said the Dons manager. "But we conceded from an error and that deflated us.
"We worked hard all week and for the first 15 minutes it was just like we worked on but all that stopped when we conceded.
"We lost our shape and the players weren't thinking and were all over the shop. We lost our composure.
"When we missed the penalty you start to think it won't be your day.
"They got the second and we really went but it wasn't a shouting match at half-time. We all worked hard for each other in the second half and you really find out about team spirit in adversity.
"In the second half I challenged the players to come off the pitch with nothing left and the boys did everything we asked for, which was fantastic."