Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was desperately searching for 'positives' from his team's humiliating 0-57 loss to the All Blacks.
New Zealand were in rampant form in Albany at the weekend, running in eight tries to secure their biggest-ever win over South Africa and maintain their 100 percent record in the competition.
Coetzee confessed his side was "outplayed", but felt a lack of luck in the opening period made it difficult for them to come back from a glut of first-half scores.
"I'm pleased with a couple of brilliant defensive efforts and a lot of positives that we can still take out of this game," said the South Africa coach.
"We were just outplayed by a world-class team.
"If you look at the first three tries they scored; a quick tap caught us napping, an intercept followed from there, and then a cross-kick.
"All of a sudden you find yourself 21 points down, which is a tough ask. But all credit to the All Blacks, they were superb.
"We actually did very well in terms of the territorial and possession stakes, it's just that the pass didn't go to hand at crucial stages. If we had scored a try or a couple of points in the first half it could have been a different thing, but they were just too good for us.
"It was a hell of a learning curve for us and this young team has learned incredible lessons.
"We will look at the positives."
The Boks return to South Africa on Sunday hoping to bounce back against Australia in Bloemfontein in a fortnight.
"We've got no option but to fight back in South Africa," a grim Coetzee said.
"We've got Australia up next and from this learning experience we will get stronger and I promise you we will be ready for Australia."
The Wallabies, who drew with the Springboks in Perth last weekend, were on a high on Saturday as they celebrated their first win in the Rugby Championship this year when they beat Argentina 45-20 in Canberra.
It was a totally different mood in Auckland where the embarrassed Springboks were hurting after their worst defeat in history.
Conceding 57 unanswered points was worse than the 15-57 humiliation suffered against New Zealand in Durban last year, and a worse losing margin than the 3-53 loss to England at Twickenham in 2002.
The All Blacks remain unbeaten after four rounds of the competition and appear headed towards a successful defence of their Southern Hemisphere crown.
Coetzee desperately tried to put a positive spin on the crushing defeat, the Springboks first loss this year, saying there were positives for his side.
"I'm obviously very disappointed and the players are hurting, and it's definitely not through lack of effort.
" Passages of great defence, passages of great attack but we couldn't break them. They were too good," he said.
"A lot of people, if you look at the score, probably think there were not a lot of positives. I would draw a lot of positives from this game."