England, the next holders, lost six of their following eight matches, and looked like a side relieved to have the burden of having to justify their status removed when they lost it in August.
So, how refreshing to see South Africa acting like a No 1 Test side in the world should act.
They have only been in the position for five months since beating England at Lord's and already they have shown all the facets of a top side, with the best batting line-up and the strongest bowling attack.
They showed resilience to not lose to Australia in Adelaide in November despite starting the last day with six wickets remaining, and then recovered from 75 for six in their first innings in Perth to rally and win the third Test, which clinched the series.
Last week they treated New Zealand's batting line-up with disdain as they rattled them out for just 45 on their way to an innings win in the first Test in Cape Town.
New Zealand, given their well documented off-field problems, were there to be hammered, but it still had to be done, and the Proteas did it in a ruthless manner.
Pakistan are the next opponents, but their brittle batting line-up will be unlikely to cope with the pace of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.
The Proteas have been the most convincing No 1 Test side thus far since Australia topped the standings between 2003 and 2009 and they look set for a long and deserved reign.
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