When South Africa were trumped 2-1 by Bangladesh in a one-day series in July, the prognosis did not look good for a tour of India, starting next week, which includes three Twenty20s, five ODIs and four Tests.
Here was a minnow usurping the second most powerful unit in the world. It was achieved in the most surprising of circumstances; Bangladesh came from behind after a thumping in game one to mete out lessons of their own, by seven- and nine-wickets respectively.
The damage was inflicted by both pace and spinners but that didn't stop detractors from claiming an old adage remains true: South Africa cannot play spin. So a trip to India represents the sternest of exams for the one of the few teams in the world who one might consider consistently strong across all formats.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given that shock in Chittagong and Dhaka, South Africa are outsiders for three-match Twenty20 series which begins a week on Friday. India are 1.715/7 to take a lead with the visitors 2.111/10.
Not only must they overcome a turning ball and dusty, dry pitches, they need to also counter the fact that modern-day touring sides just do not win that often. The trend for home domination is ODI and Test is well known.
In the last five years there have been 52 series played between the top eight nations. Only 16 of those have been won by the visitors. In Tests the bias is heavy. From 50 series only 15 have been won by the away team.
The story is the same in T20. Of 113 home Twenty20 series since the format's inception, just 37 have been won by the away side. India, incredibly given the nation's obsession with the format, have only played ten T20s at home and of the seven series they have won just two, losing two and drawing the rest.
Not so weak against spin
Still, is it fair to say that much is against South Africa? That would be true if the perceived weakness against spin was accurate. The numbers do not quite stack up.
South Africa have a win percentage of 59 in Twenty20. That rises to 68% in Asia. And in ODI since 2011 they have won 57% of matches in the continent. Not too shabby when you consider without the filter they win 60% of the time in the study period. They can't be that bad against turn.
India is not quite the unchartered territory that it was for international players since the birth of the Indian Premier League. Whereas before the pitches, the mystery spinners, the food, the fans and the stadiums were all shocks to the system, most are comfortable in the country.
Indeed, ten of South Africa's 15-man Twenty20 squad have experience of the IPL. Of those Faf du Plessis, AB De Villiers, David Miller and JP Duminy are well versed in smoking the ball out of the park. Add Hashim Amla, who has never played IPL, to the mix and South Africa are dangerous with the bat.
There is no Dale Steyn but at least Imran Tahir provides a much-needed spin threat of their own. Kyle Abbot and Chris Morris, of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively, will be tasked with taking the new ball no doubt. The slippery 20-year-old Kagiso Rabada is one to watch.
India welcome back MS Dhoni to lead. He has not lifted a bat in anger since June - we are not counting his appearance in a charity match at The Oval this month - and he returns to a squad which looks unbalanced.
There are only two pace bowlers of international repute in the form of Bhuv Kumar and Mohit Sharma. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are all notable absentees while Mohammad Shami remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Otherwise Harbhajan Singh holds on to his place in a roster which makes no secret of where India believe South Africa to be vulnerable. He is one of four spinners. In the one warm-up match, India have named two wristspinners - Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav - while Pawan Negi, who bowls left-arm orthodox, is the third spin option.
When asked about the T20 squad, Sandeep Patil, the chairman of selectors, said: "We have picked this side looking at the wickets," Patil said. "We have not lost faith in our fast bowlers."
Pace still a factor
The wickets at Dharamsala, Cuttack and Kolkata are, of course, open to a change and we would certainly expect turn in the last two games. But Dharamsala?
There have been only two one-day internationals played at the venue and both offered assistance for the pace bowlers. So good was it for seam and swing that England trounced India and one could have been forgiven for reckoning they were playing on a country green top.
Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Chris Woakes wobbled the ball left and right to take seven wickets between them in 2013 and England won by seven wickets. The last ODI played at the ground between India and West Indies didn't offer much turn, either. There were five wickets for twirlymen out of 16.
For game one at least India could be guilty of resting on their laurels, expecting to spin out a naive and ill-adjusted touring team. Ten years ago that tactic might have worked but South Africa are smarter than that.
This could be a much stiffer contest than the odds suggest.