England understood that nothing would be achieved quickly in this series. They might not have guessed in their tactical overview sessions – de rigueur of course these days – that part of South Africa's strategy would be to send them to sleep, intending no doubt to catch them unawares.
For over after over on the second day of the first Test, South Africa went on, never increasing the rate to as high as three runs an over. In this period the nature of the patience, graft, cunning and attrition that will be required in the next month must have been brought firmly home to the tourists.
Only when England had the chance to respond in the evening was there a discernible sense of adventure. The loss of an early wicket after spending more than five sessions in the field on two baking hot days might have provoked some jitters.
But Andrew Strauss, doubtless fairly keen either to atone for sending in the opposition or to show that it was a masterstroke, went along merrily as England made 88 for 1 at almost four an over, the normal rate in the modern game, leaving them 330 adrift.
The bowling was not much to email home about – except for an electrifying first spell by Makhaya Ntini carried along on a wave of affection in his 100th Test. He had Alastair Cook dropped first ball at third slip, the 88mph delivery bursting through AB de Villiers' hands. It was Friedel de Wet who removed Cook, his first Test wicket. But Strauss and Jonathan Trott, playing his first Test match in the country where he was born and raised, looked in good order.
South Africa batted for much longer than England would have preferred, even had they chosen to bat. Since they had been inserted, each ball used up in the morning and afternoon on a pitch that looked unfailingly polite must have been torture of a kind for Strauss.
It was in the drip, drip category since nothing happened quickly and sometimes nothing happened except for crease occupation. So South Africa batted in all for 153.2 overs and played what might be termed old-fashioned Test cricket. Had it not been for the dance music blasting out from the speakers here during any break in proceedings it would have been like a throwback to the Sixties when everything was fab but Test cricket.
Off spinner Graeme Swann bowled most of the overs, 45.2 in all, and merited his third haul of five wickets in an innings in a Test career which is still only 13 matches old. He goes out of his way to be a funny chap off the field but he is a serious cricketer.
There were three wickets, too, for Graham Onions who was the best of England's three fast bowlers throughout, alone in regularly bowling balls that looked as though they might take wickets.
When England removed Jacques Kallis in the seventh over of the morning, it was, for the second day in succession, just the start they wanted. Kallis had added only eight to his overnight hundred. It was a collector's item of its kind, James Anderson's first wicket in 78 overs since the third Test against Australia last August, which rather contradicts the notion of his status as England's strike bowler.
There was another wicket before lunch, JP Duminy, having made an attractive half-century with some booming off-side drives, edging a sharply turning ball to slip where Paul Collingwood took his fourth catch of the innings. Between the start of the day and lunch, South Africa added 68 for the loss of two wickets in 29 overs.
Once more, England were on the wrong end of technology, though this time it was not of their own making because they had run out of review requests. When Mark Boucher swept a ball on to his foot which then went to slip the umpires decided to refer it and slow-motion replays showed that the ball probably hit the ground at the instant it also thumped into the batsman's foot. On the stroke of lunch Morne Morkel had upheld his appeal against an lbw decision given in favour of Onions.
Between lunch and tea, South Africa scored 71 for in 28 overs, slightly quicker, or at least slightly less slow, though the heat of the day made it seem more funereal. After it, Paul Harris and De Wet extended England's stay in the field further but they were never intent on excitement.
Although the tourists bowled well enough it felt like a mercy when the innings was brought to a close, though not before De Wet asked for the lbw decision against him to be re-examined – presumably just because he could.
Had that gone against England their reaction would have been lovely to watch. When Trott survived a South African review in the evening they must have felt they were at last getting their own back.
Number of five-wicket Test hauls for England's Graeme Swann thanks to his 5-110 at Centurion Park yesterday.
Turning points: How day two's action unfolded
11.09am: Kallis clips one
Jacques Kallis' vigil comes to end at the improbable hands of Jimmy Anderson. Improbable because it is Anderson's first wicket in three Tests and in 78 overs since Edgbaston against Australia in early August.
11.55am: Swann strikes
For the second time in two days, and prolonging a habit he began in his maiden Test, Graeme Swann strikes in his first over of the day when JP Duminy edges a sharply turning ball.
12.15pm: Boot bother
TV replays give Mark Boucher the benefit of the doubt when his sweep on to his boot which balloons to slip appears also to have hit the ground. Referrals are not working for the tourists.
12.30pm: Morkel survives
Morne Morkel is given out leg before but asks for a review, which shows that the ball was narrowly going over the top. England again on the worse end of technology.
1.20pm: Wipe out
Graham Onions fells Morkel, an extremely fast bowler, with a lifting ball which strikes the batsman on the neck. When a similar thing happened to England's Devon Malcolm at The Oval in 1994 he told the South Africans: "You guys are history" and promptly took 9 for 57 by way of vengeance. England should worry.
3.05pm: 400 up
South Africa reach 400, the 20th time an opposition team have reached that total having been put in by England.
4.10pm: 100 up
Makhaya Ntini, the most popular sportsman in the country, is given a rapturous, spine-tingling reception all the way to the wicket in his 100th Test.
4.12pm: Cook spilled
Alastair Cook dropped off the first ball he faces – from Ntini.
4.40pm: De Wet gets Cook
Friedel de Wet grabs his first Test wicket when Cook gets a thin edge.
Second day of five; England trail South Africa by 330 runs with nine first-innings wickets remaining; England won toss
South Africa: First Innings
J H Kallis c Collingwood b Anderson 120 225 balls 16 fours 1 six
J P Duminy c Collingwood b Swann 56 150 balls 6 fours 1 six
†M V Boucher c Cook b Swann 49 100 balls 6 fours
M Morkel c Prior b Onions 13 48 balls 2 fours
P L Harris b Onions 38 89 balls 4 fours
F de Wet lbw b Swann 20 67 balls 3 fours
M Ntini not out 4 7 balls 1 four
Extras (b 2, lb 15, w 5) 22
Total (153.2 overs) 418
Fall: 1-1 (Smith), 2-51 (Amla), 3-93 (Prince), 4-159 (de Villiers) 5-283 (Kallis), 6-316 (Duminy), 7-341 (Morkel), 8-377 (Boucher), 9-414 (Harris), 10-418 (de Wet).
Bowling: J Anderson 37-9-104-1 (w1) (5-3-10-0, 5-2-8-0, 5-1-21-0, 4-0-18-0, 4-0-11-0, 6-1-24-1, 3-1-5-0, 5-1-7-0), S Broad 32-8-74-1 (w2) (8-3-15-1, 5-2-11-0, 4-1-10-0, 3-0-6-0, 7-1-17-0, 5-1-15-0), G Onions 30-5-86-3 (w2) (12-2-43-1, 2-0-10-0, 4-1-6-0, 3-0-7-0, 4-0-10-1, 5-2-10-1), G Swann 45.2-10-110-5 (24-5-61-2, 18-4-42-2, 3.2-1-7-1), P Collingwood 7-1-18-0 (4-1-7-0, 3-0-11-0), J Trott 2-0-9-0 (one spell).
Progress Second day: 300: 104.2 overs, Lunch: 330-6 (M Boucher 29, M Morkel 8) 119.0 overs, 350: 126.1 overs, 400: 145.0 overs, Tea: 401-8 (P Harris 33, F de Wet 12) 147.0 overs. Duminy 50: 120 balls, 6 fours, 1 six.
England: First Innings
*A J Strauss not out 44 70 balls 6 fours
A N Cook c Boucher b de Wet 15 17 balls 3 fours
I J L Trott not out 18 56 balls 2 fours
Extras (b 1, w 5, nb 5) 11
Total (1 wkt, 23 overs) 88
To bat: K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, I R Bell, †M J Prior, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, G Onions.
Bowling: M Ntini 7-1-18-0 (5-0-17-0, 2-1-1-0), F de Wet 7-0-46-1 (w1, nb3) (5-0-31-1, 2-0-15-0), M Morkel 4-0-12-0 (nb2) (one spell), P L Harris 5-2-11-0 (4-2-7-0, 1-0-4-0).
Progress: 50: 10.1 overs. Close of play: 88-1 23.0 overs.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) & S J Davis (Aus).
TV replay umpire: A M Saheba (Ind)
Match referee: B G Jerling.
Weather: Sunny with partial cloud; 34C.
TV: Sky Sports 1, HD1