South Africa have secured back-to-back series wins in Australia for the first time in their history after crushing the home side by 309 runs inside four days of the third Test at the WACA.
The Proteas' comprehensive victory ensured that their unbeaten run in away series will extend into a seventh year, maintained their undefeated record in 2012 and cemented their place as the world's number one Test nation.
Set an improbable 632 to win, Australia started the day on 0-40, but David Warner's second-ball dismissal set the tone for another below-par batting performance, culminating in their dismissed for 322 midway through the final session.
And to compound the hosts' woes, Ricky Ponting's final Test hurrah proved anything but glorious as he made just eight before falling victim to spinner Robin Peterson (3-127).
In a wonderfully sporting tribute to the outgoing former skipper, the South African fielders formed a guard of honour to applaud him onto the field and he received a warm handshake from opposite number Graeme Smith before hostilities resumed in earnest.
The WACA crowd, meanwhile, had risen as one to acclaim the man with more than 13,000 Test runs to his name and cheered even the non-scoring shots at the start of his innings.
Ponting spent four anxious balls struggling to get off the mark before pulling Morne Morkel to the boundary, a shot which appeared to settle the spectators every bit as much as the batsman himself.
A farewell knock to remember seemed a distinct possibility, but the cricket gods had other ideas and ironically, instead of being undone by the world-class Dale Steyn, Ponting was bundled out by the rather less celebrated Peterson.
Attempting to cut the slow left-armer through point, he only succeeded in top-edging the ball to Jacques Kallis who belied his hamstring woes to take a smart catch and, after a series of handshakes with the Proteas' fieldsmen and a last salute to the crowd, Ponting walked off the ground and into cricket history.
Mitchell Starc (68 not out), Ed Cowan (53) and Michael Clarke (44) at least provided some modicum of resistance for the home side, but a combination of injudicious shot selection and some naggingly-accurate bowling ensured that the Proteas would not be denied their victory.
Steyn (3-72) was the pick of the South African bowlers, as indeed he had been in the first innings and he received sterling support from Vernon Philander (2-41), Morkel (2-57) and the spirited Peterson who endured some hefty punishment but kept plugging away to claim three vital scalps on a largely unhelpful track.
Warner (29), Shane Watson (25), Michael Hussey (26), meanwhile, all made starts without managing to build upon them, while Matthew Wade failed to reproduce his first innings' heroics as he became Peterson's third victim having made just 10.
Indeed, there was little to keep the home fans enthralled after Ponting's brief appearance until John Hastings (20) and Starc set about putting the top order to shame with some defiant hitting after tea.
Starc, in particular, hammered a tiring tourists' attack to all corners of the ground, bringing up his half-century off just 32 balls as he and Nathan Lyon (31) compiled a stand of 87 to set a new record for an Australian 10th wicket pair at the WACA.
The tail's late flurry could only delay the inevitable, however, as Steyn eventually accounted for Lyon, leaving the Proteas to celebrate and the Australian selectors with plenty to ponder ahead of the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 03 December, 2012 8:10PM AEST