As many had feared they would be in the first Test, England were comprehensively outplayed here. Once again, England avoided picking their strongest side. For those frustrated with the innate caution in their recent selection, the decision to select Darren Pattinson, out of nowhere, was utterly incongruous.
Pattinson did certainly not disgrace himself, and outbowled Stuart Broad. However, this will probably prove to be his sole Test, for he lacks pace, does too little with the ball and, while accurate, is not metronomic. England would have been better off selecting the in-form Simon Jones or Steve Harmison, both of whom have proved they possess the ability to get out the best batsmen, whilst Chris Tremlett, who performed so admirably against India last summer, must be bewildered as to why England seem so willing to pick him in squads, but so reluctant to pick him in the starting XI.
So the pressing question is: how can England take 20 South African wickets?
Andrew Flintoff should certainly help, and his parsimony with the ball allied to a good second- innings knock, were a reasonably satisfactory return. But, while he is probably amongst England's best four bowlers, the problem of where he should bat persists. Michael Vaughan says seven, with good reason: but Tim Ambrose is emphatically not a Test number six. The problem is compounded by Stuart Broad - while he soon could be, his bowling average after eight Tests is 49. For all his all-round promise, can England afford a man whose bowling is neither overly threatening nor consistently economical?
So the call must go out to Messrs Jones and Harmison. Jones has been back to near his best this campaign: his combination of speed and prodigious reverse swing cannot be ignored now he has gone a considerable way to allaying those inevitable fitness doubts. With Harmison, the problem has always perceived to be mental rather than physical. However, this may just be a case of journalistic over-simplification.
The disappointments of Harmison's performances over the last four years for England, with the odd exception, are well-known. Yet his failures have so often been characterised by a lack of preparation time - think of the South Africa tour in 2004/05; the '06/07 Ashes tour; and even his last Test match in New Zealand. He is a rhythmical bowler, and he has emphatically found that this season. He is the leading wicket-taker in the Championship, with 40 wickets, and has even proved frugal in limited-overs games and Twenty20. He appears confident in himself, having bowled impressively for several months. England cannot afford to ignore his pace, bounce and hostility any longer - especially in light of Morne Morkel's impressive showings - for all the fears over his waywardness.
There is also Ryan Sidebottom, England's best bowler in the last 12 months but seemingly a little jaded. Given his performances have been less impressive of late and he had to sit out the current Test through injury, England should not recall him before he produces some impressive displays for Notts.
The issue is further clouded by the fact none of Jones, Harmison, Anderson and Sidebottom are Test number eights - and are probably not even good nines - which is a major problem given the hopelessness of Monty Panesar's batting. Panesar has been disappointing this series, but England would be loathe to ditch the one clear superiority they enjoy over South Africa.
So there is much for England's selectors to consider in the bowling department. The picture is equally grim elsewhere, with the top three all provoking question marks - Strauss has scored two Test centuries in two years, both against New Zealand; Cook has scored one century in 27 innings and there are increasing doubts over his leaden-footed technique; whilst Vaughan has struggled against Dale Steyn and seems increasingly - and worryingly - vulnerable early on. Tim Ambrose, meanwhile, should be ditched now, especially if England wish to continue with five bowlers, as they probably should. Matt Prior, with reluctance given his keeping displays when in an England shirt, should be granted an extended run at number six.
All is not yet lost for England in this series. But the problems that have been apparent for some time have now come to a head. For six days solid, England have won barely a session - and it will take something special to stem the flow.