William Shakespeare wrote through regal lips in his play Henry IV, Part 2 the classic line “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.
While it is perhaps stretching the bounds of credibility to imagine there is a Shakespearian scholar lurking in the Proteas dressing room, the citation is especially apposite to the situation our national cricket side finds itself in.
The seven-wicket loss to the England tourists at the Wanderers in Johannesburg at the weekend has already had the effect of demoting a team which has held the No 1 spot in the world Test hierarchy almost uninterrupted since 2012 to second behind India.
The slide from the throne began with the 3-0 drubbing on the dusty tracks of India late last year, a humiliating display which fed its insidious way into the opening match of the four-Test series at Kingsmead in Durban on Boxing Day.
Back on familiar home ground, the Proteas fell to a telling 241-run defeat. The double-century heroics of Hashim Amla and a maiden 100 at top level from Temba Bavuma in the drawn second Test in Cape Town sparked the belief that the much-vaunted Protea fire had been rekindled, even if the humble Amla fell on his sword and relinquished the captaincy to AB de Villiers for the match in Johannesburg.
The concluding game of the tour begins at Centurion on Friday, offering only a minor chance of some redemption on a ground notorious for rainmarred matches, in the knowledge that yet another loss will drop South African cricket to an unaccustomed fourth on the world rankings.
And the almost inevitable realisation that the arduous climb back to the top which will then lie ahead promises to be more fraught for the current imbalanced Proteas than any game of thrones.