While AB de Villiers admitted South Africa enjoyed getting their own back at Eden Park, he stressed there was more to the series win than just erasing bad memories. Victory in the decider has put the Champions Trophy firmly in South Africa's sights as they proved to themselves they can perform under pressure.
"There's a bit of emotion in us winning the series, especially chasing under pressure. We'll enjoy the victory. It doesn't make it right after we lost the semi-final. That will never change," de Villiers said. "But as we sit here now, we've just won a game against New Zealand in a final at Eden Park so it's a great feeling. We've come a long way since that semi-final."
South Africa have won seven of their nine series since the 2015 World Cup, including a one-off match against Ireland and a 5-0 whitewash over each of Australia and Sri Lanka this summer, and have hit a run of form that gives de Villiers hope that an ICC trophy is not far away.
"I felt ready [for the Champions Trophy] before this tour but this was a really good test for us. I truly believe we are ready," he said. "It will be silly for me to say yes we are going to win it even though I believe that in my heart, but no one is going to make silly statements like that. We are going there to win and I think we are ready, so if all things go well I think we will be there at the end of the tournament."
De Villiers is particularly pleased with South Africa's consistency with the ball - they have bowled their opposition out in 10 of their last 16 ODIs - and confidence with the bat, which he thought shone through on Saturday. Although South Africa were only chasing 150, the surface offered the bowlers a bit and things could have gone very wrong very quickly. South Africa were 48 for 3 and then 88 for 4, when de Villiers was dismissed, and they needed calm heads to get home.
Faf du Plessis' second half-century of the series and David Miller's 35-ball 45 got them there and showed de Villiers improvement in the way his team approaches chases. "Tonight was a great way to show everyone we can handle pressure, that we can cross the line in tight games with tricky totals and a really good bowling opposition who squeeze you very hard," he said. "All our batters showed a lot of positivity, which was great. In the past we fell into traps of being conservative and being stuck in a bubble when the pressure is on. We hit ourselves out of that with great body language and good skill throughout the innings. It's a great step in the right direction."
His pace spearhead, Kagiso Rabada agrees.
The 21 year old used exactly the same words to describe South Africa's position at the moment and also thinks they are ripe for major-tournament success, but Rabada's assessment came with a warning: the Champions Trophy is still three months away. "We are going in the right direction. If the Champions Trophy was tomorrow will be ready but, when we get to England, we will be apart from each other for quite a while," he said. "We will get back together when it's closer to the time and recuperate and then we need to get going from where we left off. That's going to be important."
That South Africa's major preparations for the Champions Trophy are complete long before the event could be considered super-efficient. It could also become a case of peaking too early, so their biggest challenge will be sustaining the momentum they have gathered so far.
What might assist them in that cause is the differing nature of their most recent series wins. South Africa have swung from complete domination over Sri Lanka to a seesaw contest against New Zealand, in which the advantage changed hands after every game. Rabada saw the value in both experiences and chances are the rest of the team did too.
"It was nice to beat Sri Lanka 5-0. It shows a clinical performance and attention to detail and then this one was really nitty gritty. Both of them have their pros and both have their own feelings," he said. "Beating a team 5-0 shows you are going into every game not being complacent, paying attention to the small things and professionalism. In a tight series, there's more pressure and we handled the pressure really well. Competition keeps you on your toes, so I enjoy both."