The team will need to overcome the lack of practice that led to its lacklustre performance this week if it is to maintain its winning streak.
It is easy to say, with hindsight, that South Africa were underprepared after six idle months, so remember what Graeme Smith said last week, before his team crashed towards ignominy in the first Test against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi: "Our first challenge is to be solid for the next few weeks, we haven't played Test cricket in a long time. We just want to have a good series and start the season well."
If you couldn't hear the concern in his voice last week, hindsight will make it obvious now.
Smith's excuse is that he had major surgery six months ago, spent two months on crutches and only resumed training four weeks ago. He is not match fit – but large chunks of his career have been played in similar circumstances and some of his best innings have been played in spite of medical advice rather than because of it.
Only Hashim Amla had played regular cricket in the month prior to the tour and his first-innings century owed much to the time he spent at Surrey.
The conclusions to be drawn from the rest of the XI's performance are clear. But, as Smith has become accustomed to saying of less than ideal circumstances, such as two-Test series, "it is what it is".
What other arrangements could have been made? Cricket South Africa (CSA) could hardly have asked half a dozen more English counties to accommodate their best players.
One of the proudest records in South African cricket history will be at stake when the second Test starts in Dubai on Wednesday.
The Proteas have been unbeaten away from home for 11 consecutive series spanning seven years, equalling the second-longest such sequence of all time. Not even Steve Waugh's all-conquering Australians managed so many tours away from home without defeat.
England played 11 unbeaten series on the road during the 1960s and the record belongs to the most dominant team of the modern era, the West Indies, who travelled the world unvanquished between 1980 and 1995.
South Africa's last away series defeat came in Sri Lanka in 2006, since when they have travelled to the "real" Pakistan, Australia twice, England twice, India twice, Bangladesh, New Zealand, West Indies and the UAE three years ago without losing.
A face-saving victory in the second Test will be extremely difficult to accomplish. A balance will have to be struck between attack and patience but it seems inconceivable that Imran Tahir's leg spin will be ignored again.
The top order are too good to be as rusty and ineffectual as they were in Abu Dhabi; the real problem will be taking 20 wickets, and Pakistan's batsmen looked as though they could play Robin Peterson for a week without concern.
At least by the time India arrive in South Africa Smith and his team should have enough overs on the clock, with bat and ball, to compete at their best.
Behind the scenes, however, a great deal of "give" and not much "take" will have gone on to ensure that there is a tour of any sort.
India's Cricket Board of Control (BCCI) will have nothing to do with CSA's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, and is not prepared to compromise. CSA has already acknowledged and acceded to this demand by sending its president, Chris Nenzani, to the latest meeting, in Mumbai, last week.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel has made it clear, however, that the board's president, N. Srinivasan, has said the board will have no dealings whatsoever with Lorgat, even when the team tour South Africa.
Reports this week that Nenzani and independent director Norman Arendse had agreed to "send Lorgat on long leave" during the tour were denied, although the comment may have been made "in jest" and subsequently leaked to Indian media.
It would not take an impossible effort for Lorgat to stay out of the public eye during the tour. He has more than enough options for statement-making.
It may be fundamentally wrong that India can dictate how its host nation conducts its affairs, but there is a tour to be salvaged and it would say a great deal more about Srinivasan's small-mindedness than it would about Lorgat if he stays below the parapet for the month of December.
The itinerary for the tour is expected to be confirmed today.
CSA had suggested three Test matches and three ODIs, but that would only be possible if the tourists had agreed to forgo a warm-up match, which they were not. So, three ODIs and a practice match before the Boxing Day and New Year Tests still appear to be the best South Africa can hope for.
Until then, they face an enormous task in protecting a proud piece of history and extending a record which began before half this team were even regulars in the side.