Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw crossed for the winning runs in their first Test, and a new Australian team won in an old familiar style. For all the talk of debutants and inclusions, the most telling contributions were made by senior players stepping up as they needed to, doubtless inspired by the change they saw around them.
More broadly, Australia won in Adelaide because they had more members of their side pitch in at key times than South Africa did. Of the XI chosen by the reconfigured selection panel, only one player - a nervy Nic Maddinson - could not be said to have played a significant part in at least one sequence of the match.
Two other players were still to make their presence felt when the fourth day began, but they did so in ways that put the capstone on Australia's performance. Jackson Bird was chosen narrowly ahead of Chadd Sayers for Adelaide, his extra height and previous successes at Test level allowing his inclusion at the expense of a prolific hometown operator. Bird's stump-to-stump line is pivotal to his game, and it was one such delivery that pinned Quinton de Kock in front to end the series of a batsman who had been a thorn in Australia's side. That wicket alone justified Bird's place.
David Warner, too, had some work to do in order to match-up to the efforts of some team-mates. For most of the match he has been afflicted by a shoulder complaint, wincing when throwing and off the field for just long enough in the first innings to be precluded from taking his usual place as an opener. Brushed aside by Kyle Abbott's seamers when he did get to bat, Warner resumed in the sort of scenario that suits his busy style.
While Renshaw covered up judiciously in defence at one end, Warner took the initiative in the kind of manner essential to any chase of a small total. Infamously Australia were stuck in the dust of a fifth day SCG pitch in 1994 to hand South Africa their first Test win down under since readmission, and the early dismissal of the energetic Michael Slater was a critical element to that tale. Warner though was able to capitalise on early errors in line and length from Abbott and Vernon Philander to quickly take down the target.
Renshaw was beaten countless times, but his temperament to survive was demonstrated amply even after Warner was wastefully run-out. In many ways, his impact transcended the number of runs he made on debut, for he showed the team and the public that stolid defence can, indeed must, be a part of a successful Australian batting combination in Test matches. His survival of the tricky 12 overs on the first night should not be forgotten, demonstrating supreme judgment around off stump and an unwillingness to do any more than cover the line of the off stump. Across two innings he soaked up 183 balls, a notable figure.
This is partly because it shielded the Australian middle order until a platform had been laid, but also partly because Renshaw's solidity allowed Usman Khawaja to grow into his finest Test innings to date. Avoiding the undue risks posed by driving and keeping out all that South Africa could hurl, he was deservingly Man of the Match. Team-mates, namely Nathan Lyon, had a good natured joke with Khawaja about his newfound "nightwatchman" status, but the truth is that his was an innings with that kind of selflessness at its heart. By departing from his usual methods, Khawaja did exactly the job the team required of him.
So too did the captain Steven Smith and the debutant Handscomb. Plenty of times in this series Smith has appeared the batsman best placed to keep South Africa at bay, yet the first innings was his only half-century in the three Tests, and a good one at that. As a captain, most of his field placings and bowling changes had the desired results, not least the use of Nathan Lyon on the third evening.
Handscomb's debut innings was a lovely piece of middle order counter-punching, aided greatly by the hard work done by those above him in the order. His idiosyncratic method was picked apart on the air by the likes of Michael Clarke, with the inference that Handscomb will have to advance further forward from his crease in order to prosper overseas. But the attitude he demonstrated, taking the game to the bowlers and punishing minuscule errors in line and length, contrasted favourably with the inertia offered earlier by Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh and Peter Nevill, among others.
Of the bowlers, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc enjoyed the movement offered up by the pink ball and a well-grassed Adelaide pitch, while not getting carried away in their search for wickets. Hazlewood has been Australia's leading wicket-taker for the series, and Starc admirably durable despite what was an abominable physical preparation for Test matches. Both will be better still against Pakistan.
So too will be Lyon, author of the spell that tilted the match to the hosts on the third night. He had started the match with three men in the deep for his first over, but grew in confidence with every ball from there. JP Duminy's dismissal, as important as any in the Test, was brought about partly by tempting the batsman with a gap at midwicket and a second slip, then sliding a quicker ball into off stump. Smith can take credit for floating the idea with Lyon, but so can the bowler for pulling it off. Lyon will sing the team song with plenty of pent-up gusto.
Another likely to bellow Underneath the Southern Cross will be Matthew Wade, a Test match winner on his recall for the first time in more than three years. Wade's yappy visage behind the stumps has in turn been the cause for plenty of comment, so too his cheap first innings dismissal while Peter Nevill clouted an unbeaten 179 for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield. But six catches and a stumping were sound reward for a gloveman improved if not perfected, and most of all there was the fact that his winning habit with Victoria has now been returned to Australia.
It should not for a moment be forgotten that this was a victory in a dead rubber Test match, of the kind that brought about many false dawns for England in the 1990s. Numerous areas of the game, notably running between the wickets, must be addressed. There also remains the possibility of further evolution for the team between now and the Gabba Test against Pakistan, notably the question of how to re-accommodate Shaun Marsh, perhaps for Maddinson.
But the victory in Adelaide has at least provided all with a reminder of how most Test matches have been won by Australian sides over the years, and how they will be again: with grit as well as flair.