Australian wicketkeeper Matt Wade missed a golden stumping chance on dangerman Graeme Smith, as South Africa made an ideal start to the biggest challenge they've faced as the world's No.1 team.
Bowling conditions continued to prove difficult at Adelaide Oval, with South Africa moving to 117-0 at tea in reply to Australia's mammoth first innings of 550 all out on day two of the second Test.
After his heroics with the bat, captain Michael Clarke (10-0) should have had the key breakthrough of counterpart Smith - but the chance was fluffed by Wade.
In the 28th over, Clarke's second, Smith couldn't resist leaving his crease, but when the ball passed between bat and pad Wade missed the chance.
Smith was 46 at the time and it remains to be seen how costly that will be for Australia, with the South African 57 not out at tea.
His opening partner Alviro Petersen was unbeaten on 47.
The pair weren't trying to match the explosive speed of Australian opener David Warner (119 from 112) on day one, but did everything required to occupy the crease for the sake of the game - and giving injured allrounder Jacques Kallis more time to rest his hamstring strain.
Australian firebrand James Pattinson went after Smith early, as he looked to replicate his dominance of the Proteas skipper at the Gabba in the first Test.
Smith escaped a couple of near misses, and as a man who has proved a warrior for South Africa on so many occasions, he's capable of making the home side pay.
Pattinson might have been aggressive, but he was also expensive, going for 33 runs at 5.5 an over.
Predictably, spinner Nathan Lyon was asked to do a lot of bowling early in the South African innings and had 21-0 from 10.
Under-pressure quick Ben Hilfenhaus bowled tightly when thrown the new ball but despite four maidens failed to trouble the batsmen (29-0).
Peter Siddle was kept out of the action early, but perhaps that was a mistake because he looked dangerous in his five overs, going for just eight.
Australia have a chance to usurp the Proteas as the best team in Test cricket if they can win the three-match series - which started with a draw in Brisbane.
Clarke's side were dismissed shortly before lunch on day two, after another eventful morning that included Morne Morkel taking three wickets to finish with 146-5 and a quick-fire 42-run cameo from Pattinson.
Clarke was bowled by Morkel for 230 - bringing an end to his incredible two-Test streak of being not out for 489 runs.
Australia dismissed for 550
Michael Clarke was dismissed for the first time in two matches and 489 runs as South African fast bowler Morne Morkel finally shut down Australia's record-breaking first innings.
Australia were bowled out for 550 early on day two of the second Test in Adelaide, but not before James Pattinson smashed an important 42 from 35 balls.
Nathan Lyon was not out 7.
Morkel finished with a five-wicket haul (146-5), taking the prized scalp of Clarke (230, 40 fours and one six) and then Matthew Wade (6) and Ben Hilfenhaus (0) on Friday.
Pattinson gave the South Africans some late headaches (four boundaries, two sixes), but the Proteas composed themselves well after Thursday's punishment and finished the job before lunch.
They face a big challenge to get themselves back into the match, but the scenario could have been much worse had they not fronted up.
Clarke was bowled by Morkel in the fifth full over of the day having added six runs to his overnight score.
The skipper fell just eight runs short of Sachin Tendulkar's mark of most runs scored between dismissals.
His back-to-back double hundreds in Brisbane and now Adelaide put him third on that list, just one run behind Sir Garfield Sobers who managed 490 from two innings back in 1958.
Morkel was easily South Africa's best bowler on day one, but had little luck.
He was finally rewarded for his effort and persistence.
Proteas rookie Rory Kleinveldt claimed his first Test wicket when he had Peter Siddle (6) caught behind.
Kleinveldt (81-1) has had a tough initiation since making his debut in Brisbane, but had to sweat it out after umpire Billy Bowden sent the dismissal upstairs to check on a front-foot no-ball.
Replays suggested Kleinveldt was lucky to hold onto the scalp.
South Africa bowled fuller on day two than they did on Thursday when they were pounded for 482 runs - a near record for Australia in a day's play.
Captain Clarke will be urging his bowlers to pitch up and put pressure on the South African batsmen who will be carrying an injured Jacques Kallis (hamstring).
There were two stunning hundreds on day one that didn't belong to Clarke - David Warner scorched 119 from 112 balls (also dismissed by Morkel) and Mike Hussey backed up his ton at the Gabba with a superb 103.
The humiliation continued for Proteas spinner Imran Tahir on Friday, finishing with 0-180 after Pattinson had finished with him.
Kallis took 19-2 before leaving the field injured, debutant Faf du Plessis had 34-0 and Dale Steyn finished 79-2.
Should bouncers be banned from cricket?