A Michael Vaughan century could not save England as South Africa A thumped them by seven wickets in a three-day tour match at Sedgars Park, Potchefstroom on Monday.
Another poor batting performance by a rusty-looking England -- they were dismissed for 190 in their second innings after resuming on 154 for seven on Monday -- left the hosts needing just 134 to win.
England, previously unbeaten in a first-class match in 2004 and who have won 10 out of their last 11 Tests, were left to pray for further rain but the sun returned after one-and-a-half-hour's play was lost on the final afternoon.
Without Vaughan, England's humiliation would have been complete.
His century took three and three-quarter hours and came off 149 balls with 13 fours and two sixes but, two balls after reaching three figures, Vaughan slashed off the back foot and edged behind to Mark Boucher off impressive left-armer Charl Willoughby.
"I think we didn't take the match as seriously as we should have, but it was the kick up the backside we needed," Vaughan said after the defeat.
"We will do some serious talking before Friday and I'm sure we will be more focused by the Test."
Steve Harmison hit two boundaries in eight balls to finish on 13 not out, but Simon Jones was the last man to fall, hitting a comfortable catch to extra cover.
Seamer Matthew Hoggard got rid of first-innings top-scorer Martin van Jaarsveld for a duck in the first over of the South Africa A second innings but by lunch the hosts were cruising on 63 for one.
South Africa A coach Vincent Barnes felt England would come right.
"Our bowlers stopped the England batsmen from getting as much time as possible out in the middle, but we all know things will be very different in the Test," Barnes said.
"England are a world-class side and they will be fully pumped up."
Lighting caused a short delay after the break and England, who made just 225 in their first innings, seemed to benefit as two wickets fell for four runs.
Andrew Puttick added just one run, reaching 45 before he edged a good delivery from Simon Jones to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, and Justin Ontong was out in the next over, top-edging Harmison to fine-leg where Ashley Giles reacted late but completed a good catch.
South Africa A were 76 for three, but Ashwell Prince (23 not out) and Jean-Paul Duminy (25 not out) overcame the 80-minute delay to steer the hosts to victory with a feast of boundaries.
Top-order batsmen Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe, none of whom were on England's one-day trip to Zimbabwe, all failed, scoring just 23 runs between them in the two innings.
Butcher in particular will feel under pressure, after failing to reach three figures in three innings on tour. His closest rival, Robert Key, made 87 in his single innings.
England first innings 225 (A.Strauss 50; C.Langeveldt 5-48)
South Africa A first innings 281 (M.van Jaarsveld 71, J.Ontong 56)
England second innings (overnight 154-7)
M.Trescothick lbw b Willoughby 2
A.Strauss c Duminy b Mbhalati 0
M.Butcher lbw b Willoughby 0
M.Vaughan c Boucher b Willoughby 100
G.Thorpe b Willoughby 11
A.Flintoff b Morkel 21
G.Jones c Boucher b Mbhalati 26
A.Giles c van Jaarsveld b Thomas 2
M.Hoggard c Prince b Langeveldt 3
S.Jones c Prince b Langeveldt 5
S.Harmison not out 13
Extras (lb-2 nb-4 w-1) 7
Total (all out, 53.1 overs) 190
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-3, 3-3, 4-29, 5-64, 6-109, 7-125, 8-164, 9-176
Bowling: Willoughby 14-2-63-4, Mbhalati 12-3-38-2 (nb-2), Langeveldt 12.1-5-25-2 (nb-1), Morkel 6-0-31-1 (w-1), Thomas 6-1-15-1 (nb-1), Ontong 3-0-16-0
South Africa A second innings
A.Puttick c G Jones b S Jones 45
M.van Jaarsveld c G Jones b Hoggard 0
J.Ontong c Giles b Harmison 23
A.Prince not out 23
J.Duminy not out 25
Extras (lb-12 nb-4 w-3) 19
Total (for three wickets, 30 overs) 135
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-72, 3-76
Bowling: Hoggard 4-0-21-1, Harmison 12-1-51-1 (w-2), Flintoff 5-1-10-0 (nb-3), S.Jones 8-0-36-1 (nb-1 w-1), Giles 1-0-5-0
Result: South Africa A won by seven wickets.