South Africa took full advantage of an abject England batting display on Monday to complete an easy 340-run win in the second Test to level the series 1-1 with two games left to play.
Instead of mounting the required rearguard action, England collapsed to 133 all out, with the last three wickets falling without the addition of a run, as the spectators at Trent Bridge watched in stunned silence.
The wickets were shared among four bowlers with Vernon Philander (3-24), Keshav Maharaj (3-42) and Chris Morris (2-7) taking the honours.
Alastair Cook top scored for the hosts with 42.
England began the day on 0-1 with the almost impossible job of either scoring another 473 runs to win or batting two days to save a Test that was rapidly slipping from their grip.
But their hopes of pulling off a world-record run chase began disastrously, when in the second over Philander uprooted Keaton Jennings' off-stump with the opener on three.
The early wicket left England looking beaten and Gary Ballance was next to go, an lbw on review, playing back to a ball from Philander that kept low for four.
Both Jennings and Ballance will find their positions under pressure after contributing just 44 and 85 respectively in four innings this series.
England's last flickering hope rested with their talisman Joe Root, but despite looking in positive mood he too departed before lunch, bowled for eight by a delightful outswinging yorker from Morris.
With England reeling on 3-55, Cook was left to salvage some sort of respectability. The former captain looked the only batsman possessing the discipline and technique to survive for an extended period but, on reaching 42, he was bounced out chasing a high ball from Morris that flicked off his gloves to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The procession accelerated after the break, as the hosts lost their last five wickets for 11 runs to surrender their series lead in abject fashion.