South Africa spike England's big guns
The Proteas went to the top of the ICC's Test Championship table after completing a 51-run victory in the third Test at Lord's on Monday.
But they'd already done one of the most important things in a short series by winning the first Test at The Oval, before drawing the second in Leeds.
And their opening success was not just any win but a crushing innings and 12-run triumph.
They demoralised England by compiling a mammoth 637 for two declared featuring Hashim Amla's national record 311 not out.
Importantly, Amla was dropped early in his innings, setting the tone for a series where England's normally reliable fielding let them down.
And to think this was an area where many felt South Africa might struggle after veteran wicket-keeper Mark Boucher was ruled out before the series started with a career-ending eye injury.
"We were able to post totals and build partnerships to get scores on the board which allowed out bowlers a little more freedom," said South Africa captain Graeme Smith.
"It allowed them to attack and get the rewards. We caught well, too. To have won 2-0 is a great feeling."
On paper, South Africa appeared to have the stronger batting line-up and so it proved with England, despite a hundred from Alastair Cook, only making 385 in the first innings at The Oval.
Significantly they were prevented from making a bigger score by fine fast bowling from Morne Morkel, who took four first innings wickets, before fellow quick Dale Steyn produced a superb return of five for 56 in the second.
England's attack lacked the same 'bite' with James Anderson's nine wickets costing more than 40 runs apiece and fellow new-ball bowler Stuart Broad almost as expensive.
They also lacked pure raw speed with 37-year-old South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis often appreciably sharper than any member of England's attack.
Tactically, Smith -- often criticised for being too conservative -- was prepared to make more of the running than England skipper Andrew Strauss, who also had a poor series with the bat.
Strauss's policy of trying to frustrate batsmen into error for the most part was rendered ineffective by a South Africa top order who weren't prepared to give their wickets away.
He was also involved in the decision to drop off-spinner Graeme Swann, a mainstay of England's rise to the top, from the side for the second Test.
This was a huge boost to South Africa and the fact Swann's four wickets in the series cost 77 runs apiece meant one of England's most potent weapons had been nullified by the Proteas.
By contrast, as well as Steyn and Morkel, South Africa found another match-winner in seamer Vernon Philander, whose impressive start to his Test career prior to the England tour had left many wondering if he was as good as his figures suggested.
"Stats don't lie," was Philander's pithy response after taking five wickets for 30 runs on a tense final day Monday to get his name on the Lord's honours board, a feat also achieved in this match by Amla with a masterful 121.
England's decision to drop Kevin Pietersen in the build-up to the third Test, despite his 149 at Headingley did not prove too costly in terms of runs, with Jonathan Bairstow, his replacement, making 95 and 54 at Lord's.
However, it was clearly mentally wearing and the whole row over Pietersen's "provocative texts" to South African players, allegedly containing criticisms of Strauss, his successor as captain, was a controversy England could have well done without.
"South Africa were just a bit too good," said Strauss. "They outplayed us over the course of the three Test matches."