Captain Hashim Amla has said South Africa were suffering a crisis of confidence following a woeful 2015 which culminated with a 241-run defeat to England in the first Test.
"It's a confidence thing but hopefully we can turn it around," Amla said after going 1-0 down in the four-test series.
"You can do well in the nets but it has got to materialise out on the field and we have that hunger to get more runs."
South Africa finished the year with only one win, which was almost 12 months ago against the West Indies. The subsequent seven Tests resulted in two draws in Bangladesh, a 3-0 loss in the four-match series against India and now defeat by England.
They also failed to compile a century partnership in any of their Tests in 2015.
However, coach Russell Domingo backed the world's top-ranked Test team to bounce back despite their miserable run in 2015.
"We saw glimpses of what some of the batters are capable of and we've got to keep believing in the players. We know we have the quality and all it takes is just one or two players finding form and they'll be back in the groove again," he told reporters.
South Africa will have to find form sooner rather than later as the second test against England starts at Newlands on Saturday.
"It might not be a bad thing to play again so quickly because the longer you have to wait, the more the players might mull over their mistakes, want to try and fix things in the nets," said Domingo.