New Zealand's ambitions of being competitive with the world's best cricket team were undone inside the opening hour at Newlands today.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, New Zealand were reeling at 27 for five as seamer Vernon Philander tore through the batting order.
Philander, who had been in doubt for the test with a hamstring strain, showed no signs of discomfort as he ripped all five wickets out at a personal cost of just four runs in his first 25 balls.
By lunch New Zealand had been shot out for just 45, its third lowest test total and equal 12th lowest ever.
There was a milestone too, when Dale Steyn tore out Doug Bracewell's leg stump to claim his 300th test wicket.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, in his first test in charge, had spoken of wanting to ''front foot" the test, bat first and set out some sort of stall.
It was brave talk, especially as it was common knowledge that the first session, at least, would provide considerable help for the seamers, and South Africa's trio of Dale Steyn, Philander and Morne Morkel are the best in the business.
But New Zealand never got their innings started.
Martin Guptill was caught behind in the second over; McCullum departed in the sixth, bowled between his bat and pad; and Dean Brownlie edged to first slip three balls later.
Kane Williamson, the only batsman who looked remotely comfortable, got to 13 before being lbw, confirmed after an appeal to the third umpire; Recalled wicketkeeper BJ Watling was caught by keeper AB de Villiers to the first ball of Philander's next over, leaving James Franklin to prevent Philander's hat trick.
He didn't last long, however, edging Morkel's 11th ball of the test to first slip.
Philander has enjoyed a remarkable test career. He'd taken 67 wickets in 13 tests before today's play began.
He took 21 wickets in three tests in New Zealand last summer and by lunch his 26 wickets had cost only 12.7 runs each.
After Bracewell had gone, Jeetan Patel was well caught at wide mid off by Hasim Alma off Morkel, Trent Boult was caught behind and Daniel Flynn caught and bowled by Steyn.
Philander finished with five for seven, Morkel three for 14 and Steyn two for 18.
The test already appeared doomed as a contest by the end of the first session, confirming the worst fears of South African officials, and fans, who have taken a dim view of New Zealand's since the team arrived in the country.