THEY looked as casual and composed as though they were participating in a training outing as Germany toyed with Bafana Bafana in what was generally a tame 2-0 win at the Leverkusen Stadium on Saturday night.
It was South Africa's fifth successive defeat in a period in which they have scored a mere three goals and conceded 11 after a performance that, in the main, was dedicated stoically towards preventing goals rather than scoring them.
And while some might view Bafana's performance as unnecessarily defensive, the stark truth of the matter is that it was only such a dour approach that probably enabled the 2010 World Cup hosts to keep the scoreline down to a reasonably respectable level.
Germany went ahead through a close-range goal from gangling Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez in the 36th minute and the fourth-ranked Fifa team rarely looked like surrendering their lead against a side who are 69 places worse off in 73rd position.
And it required a busy Rowen Fernandez in the Bafana goal to keep the scoreline unaltered until Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Oezil ran onto a Lucas Podolski through-ball to make the score 2-0 in the 77th minute.
Podolski, who scored a hat-trick when the teams last met and Germany recorded an equally comfortable 4-2 victory, this time only made an appearance in the second half as a substitute.
Bafana might have missed a couple of key players like Orlando Pirates midfielder Teko Modise, but the strong suspicion persisted that even at full-strength South Africa would have not performed much better against a side who were a class above.
Germany hardly seemed to raise a sweat as they controlled proceedings with an endless stream of poised passes, but there was a certain lack of inventiveness and inspiration in front of goal that could easily have resulted in a goal glut.
Ironically, Bafana's closest effort at recording a goal came from German defender Arne Friedrich, who was only prevented from the indignity of an "own goal" by goalkeeper Rene Adler bringing off an acrobatic, intuitive save.
Bafana coach Joel Santana made changes in the second half in a futile attempt to employ a more attacking approach.
And had powerhouse Bastian Schweinsteiger, so often a match-winner for Germany, not had something of an off-night when it came to finishing, the score might easily have been doubled.
And the unhappy suspicion is gaining credence that in their efforts not to lose, Bafana are forgetting how to win games with confidence, fortitude and an element of self-belief.
Germany's third win in four games against Bafana, with the remaining one at the Johannesburg Stadium in 1995 drawn, will not go down as a game to remember - with the 22000 crowd strangely silent for the most part over what was the predictable nature of the outcome. - Sapa