AB de Villiers was at a loss to explain the batting collapse that saw South Africa capitulate against India but denied his side had suffered another bout of the nation's infamous frailties on the world stage, but insisted he was still the man to captain the ODI side.
South Africa had set themselves a wonderful foundation to launch themselves beyond 300, but three dire run-outs and a dramatic collapse of 8-51 left them only 191 to defend on a fine pitch under uncommon blue skies in London.
India chased down the target through Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli with a whopping 72 balls to spare.
De Villiers denied the Proteas had suffered another mental collapse in a global 50-over tournament.
"We've tried quite a few things, camps and psychologists, whatever you want to call it," de Villiers said. "There's been quite a few game plans around that.
"In my mind, that wasn't the problem. It wasn't a mental thing. We just didn't play well.
"It's disappointing as all the other losses in the past. Yeah, it ranks right up there. It's always very disappointing to me when we lose a game, and the way we lost was the most disappointing part of it.
"We were really in a good position there with the batting end early on, and through soft dismissals we lost our way and that was the part for me that hurt the most."
On the question of why the Proteas can dominate bi-lateral series, and earn their current ranking as the world No.1 ODI side, but continually fail in tournaments, de Villiers said it was "pretty sad".
"Tournaments are a little bit different. You play different teams all the time on different venues, so it's a big challenge. No one said it's going to be easy. But we do come up short for some reason in tournaments like this, and it is pretty sad," he said.
"I can't explain to you exactly what happens. I think you saw it out there today. Just a very poor batting performance.
"Nothing to do with the energy or the intensity or the belief in the team. We felt we had a great chance today. We came here to win the game of cricket.
"And then we just unravelled as a side out there."
The match may have been a group stage encounter but doubled as an unofficial quarter-final, with India now to face Bangladesh in the semi-final in Birmingham on Thursday, while South Africa head home for some soul searching.
De Villiers was the first of three run outs, but the captain's dismissal owed much to Hardik Pandya's brilliant work in the field. The same could not be said of the comical mix-up that saw David Miller and Faf du Plessis diving for the line at the same end as the bails were removed at the other, nor the final wicket of Imran Tahir as he and JP Duminy did a stutter step dance mid-pitch.
"Very difficult to explain that," de Villiers said when queried on the run outs. "I don't know how that happened.
"It's a partnership out there. It's two guys that trust -- try and trust each other to pull off a run or two and sometimes it just doesn't happen that way, and you come up short.
"I don't know what happened there today. I wouldn't like to blame guys out there. It's just one of those things that happens, I guess.
"I felt the team was pretty composed today. I don't think we lost it there with composure. A few errors in judgments, a few mistakes out there cost us badly today.
"Run outs happen. Three in one innings is definitely not the way we want to play our cricket, that's for sure.
"It's got nothing to do with composure in my eyes. I felt pretty calm with the team all the time. We played some good shots. Just a couple of bad, error in judgments out there that cost us."
Despite another early exit de Villiers, who had been under an injury cloud coming into the match, insisted he was still the right man to captain South Africa.
"Because I'm a good captain. And I can take this team forward," said de Villiers.
"I can take us to win a World Cup, I believe.
"And I believed the same thing over here in this tournament and the last one, but that's what I believe. I love doing it."
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Squads: Every Champions Trophy nation
2 June – New Zealand v Australia, No Result
4 June – India beat Pakistan by 124 runs
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, No Result
6 June – England beat New Zealand by 87 runs
11 June – India beat South Africa by eight wickets
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (England v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (Bangladesh v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)