Meet South Africa. The only team to have posted 400 runs twice in succession in an ODI. The team with two batsmen, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who consider each other the best in the world and who the rest of the world consider the best, too. The team with the top-ranked pace bowler in the global game. The team de Villiers has "nothing good to say about at the moment."

After being defeated in what de Villiers identified as the second of the big matches in the pool stage - the first was against India - the South African captain has concluded that his men may "not be as good as we think we are," and were "not prepared to fight it out," against a spirited Pakistan.

"I hate losing. I've got nothing good to say about the team at the moment," de Villiers said. "Hopefully we have got four games left in the tournament and opportunity to lift the trophy. We need to approach the quarter-finals with a fresh mindset. I've got nothing good to say about performance today."

The truth was something was not right from the moment South Africa arrived at Eden Park and de Villiers knew it. "I didn't feel an electric vibe," he said.

It did not seem as though many people, particularly South African supporters, felt that vibe. On the quiet suburbs around Eden Park, which is just three kilometres from the city where almost a third of the population of New Zealand lives, the currents flow calmly.

Activity was limited to a square outside Gate A where one group was rollerblading, another was on stilts and a third mimicked the person directing foot traffic. Forty minutes before the match was due to begin the stands of Eden Park were similarly sparse as spectators waited to see if the weather would hold before committing their Saturday to sport.

When they came in, the green of Pakistan outnumbered the green and gold of South Africa. They did not intimidate in the same way the Indian-dominated crowd at MCG did but their presence added to what already been a morning of mishaps for South Africa.

Vernon Philander had been declared fit and available on Friday, after missing the previous two matches with a hamstring strain, but he had to withdraw from the playing XI before play when he experienced discomfort again. De Villiers admitted he felt he was "thrown a curve ball before the game". The extent of that curve was only known later when the effect Philander's absence had on the batting line-up was exposed.

South Africa needed him more with the bat than the ball which encapsulates the actual issue of their team: the make-up of their team, not the mindset. They are without a regular genuine all-rounder and are constantly compromising on an element of their game. Their gambles have often paid off before and they almost paid off again when they limited Pakistan to a chaseable total, albeit it with a makeshift fifth bowler.

This time duties were shared between JP Duminy and de Villiers himself, who offers little more than novelty value as a bowler. His medium pace is innocuous and, even though de Villiers snagged the wicket of Younis Khan between him and Duminy, they cost the team 77 runs.

De Villiers made exactly that score with bat in hand but lacked support, which illustrates South Africa's more pressing concern. They are prone to collapses when the middle order is exposed to pressure.

The only way to avoid that is with consistently solid starts at the top and a line-up that bats deep. Against Pakistan, they had neither. Philander, or even Wayne Parnell offer more with the bat than Abbott and South Africa may need to look at including one of them instead of a specialist seamer.

They will be more worried about what to do with Quinton de Kock, whose lean run has now stretched one game too many. Although his talent is not in question, de Kock has now gone five innings with only one score in double figures.

At another stage of his career, that would be regarded as a rough patch that could be smoothed over with sufficient game time, especially as he returning from a serious injury. But this is a World Cup and luxuries like that are hard to afford, unless, as is the case with de Kock, the player is needed in another capacity.

De Kock is also the first-choice gloveman, who frees de Villiers up to lead, prowl the outfield and bowl. Leaving him out would require de Villiers to take the gloves but allow South Africa to play another batsman - in-form Rilee Rossouw would be the obvious choice. But then too much would be asked of the captain.

Already, South Africa depend on him with the bat, although they have taken great care to play that down lest it be perceived as over-reliance. When Russell Domingo was asked about de Villiers recently, he said, 'He is a wonderful player but we have many wonderful players," while another member of the support staff repeatedly reminded that South Africa are not a "one-player team."

De Villiers himself brushed off suggestions he is overburdened, even after the Pakistan performance. "I know I can't win this World Cup on my own: I need my team-mates," he said. "They've got the ability and capability and the talent to do that. It's about the senior guys stepping up and helping some of the youngsters to lift their game. We can all play cricket."

Now, they have to show they can play cricket even when they are not feeling as charged up as usual. "It's my responsibility to try and get them going which I couldn't do today. I could feel nothing was happening at 100%.

"It's like a car that in second or third gear and that won't win you games. Not under pressure in big tournaments like this." Unless South Africa change that, de Villiers won't be the only one with nothing good to say.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent