Durban - Coach Heyneke Meyer admitted South Africa were thoroughly outplayed by Argentina in Saturday's Rugby Championship match but insisted the Springboks remained title contenders at next month's Rugby World Cup in England.
Argentina stunned South Africa 37-25, their first ever victory against the Springboks who succumbed to their fourth successive Test defeat.
"This does not put us back for the World Cup," Meyer told reporters.
"We are a much better team than this. We will be working even harder.
"I still believe we are in contention for the World Cup. We are getting a number of big ball carriers back soon and we will be better for it."
South Africa are second in the World Rugby rankings, but were outclassed by eighth-ranked Argentina in their own back yard.
They were defensively poor, gave away a number of scrum penalties, missed their lineout jumpers and in the end were booed by their own fans at Kings Park in what is their final home match before the World Cup.
They now head to Buenos Aires for a Test against Argentina for their last warm-up fixture before the September 18-October 31 World Cup, a game that now has added significance for the 1995 and 2007 world champions.
Coming off the back of narrow defeats to Australia and New Zealand in which they dominated for large parts of the game, Meyer was disappointed with his side's application.
"We managed quick ball against New Zealand and Australia despite them having two of the best opensiders in the world. Today we could not manage that, for a variety of reasons.
"We need to give credit to Argentina, who outplayed us today," Meyer said.
"They delivered a great performance and deserved the win. They played a game that suited them and not us.
"We could not adapt and sadly, we were just not good enough today. I apologise to the nation as the buck stops with me as coach. There are no excuses."
South Africa have been drawn in Pool B at the World Cup, alongside Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.