Vale looked down and out against Swindon on Saturday when goals from Dany N'Guessan, Nile Ranger and Massimo Luongo saw the Robins coast into the 3-0 lead.
But Adams' men did not make it comfortable for their hosts and top scorer Tom Pope rounded goalkeeper Wes Foderingham to pull a goal back after 73 minutes.
And the County Ground was silenced with 10 minutes left when Lee Hughes smashed home from two yards out to bring the visitors to within a single goal.
However, further efforts from Nathan Byrne and Luongo eventually saw Swindon win 5-2.
Adams said: "Our inconsistency has reared its ugly head again.
"From looking a decent side last week our frailties were exposed.
"We have to be on our game at all times, defend properly and do the right thing. If we don't do that we get punished because we are not good enough.
"We have not shown any real desire to defend properly and at this level if you don't do that you get punished."