Opening batsman, Dean Elgar feels the current Proteas setup has lost some of its intimidation factor in recent years.
The 32-year-old made his Test debut in 2012, with rules a lot different to what they are in 2020.
How the game's changing landscape has curtailed the Proteas
Elgar says things have changed in the eight years he's been part of the team, both in terms of personnel and the laws of the game.
"In 2012, we had big, tall fast bowlers, and guys like Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis who could just puff out their chests and they were intimidating," he told ESPNCricinfo.
"They didn't need to say too much. Now you can't really go hard at guys, and you don't want to be in a situation where you do something and then are banned, because you are letting the team down."Dean Elgar
South Africa has been on the wrong end of sanctions a few times as a result of on-field intimidation, with their bowling speedster Kagiso Rabada often emerging as the main culprit.
A more cautious approach
Elgar feels the crackdown on what the International Cricket Council (ICC) views as unsporting behaviour has resulted in a more cautious approach from the team.
"We have seen that with KG [Kagiso Rabada] recently, and that's just pure emotion. It shouldn't be taken out of the game. In 2012, we had big, imposing guys; now you can't say boo to a goose. You need to be more cautious."Dean Elgar
The Proteas have also experienced a notable dip in form in recent years, where they find themselves languishing in mid-table in terms of ICC team rankings, far from the heights of around a decade ago, where they occupied top-spot.
While standards on the bowling front have not seen a significant plunge, it has been more noticeable on the batting side, where the team has posted totals below its usual stock.
"A few summers ago, we were under a different coach, and we were chasing results, so we had different pitches," Elgar said. "It was almost like you want to win before you have played the full five days. And then you neglect one side of your game to bring out your advantage in the other. There was a desperation."Dean Elgar
Before the cricket calendar came to a halt in March, South Africa were in seventh place in the newly-launched ICC Test Championship, with 24 points from their solitary win against England in the home summer.
They are scheduled to take to the field next in July, when they take on the West Indies in the first of two Tests in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.