Despite good results against Samoa and Scotland, Bryan Habana believes that South Africa are going to have to raise the bar even higher if they want to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.
The Springboks bounced back from a shock defeat against Japan with dominating wins against Samoa and Scotland to top Pool B.
While these results have gone a long way to improve the morale in the South African camp, the winger is hoping an outstanding performance against the USA on Wednesday will earn them momentum as they enter the quarter-final stage.
"Japan was 100 times more disappointing for us than it was for anyone outside this group," reflected the 32-year-old.
"The response this past two weeks has been good but we still believe we’re not quite there yet. A couple of issues we need to sort out on and off the field. We believe if we are going to get to the next stage, we are going to have to improve.
"USA may not be ranked in the top ten but we've already seen that their physicality, intensity and their approach doesn't make it easy to play against them."
The Springboks have had a rollercoaster World Cup, with their loss to Japan punctuated by a win over Samoa and a campaign-ending injury to captain Jean de Villiers.
With De Villiers out and vice captain Victor Matfield on the sideline with injury, there was a substantial leadership vacuum.
However, Habana indicated that Fourie du Preez has slotted into the captain's role well and the core of the leadership is still strong.
"Losing any leader of the calibre of Jean and Victor is never easy," added the Toulon flyer.
"Their experience, their composure, the way they go about things is never easy to replace but the great thing about any successful team is that the core leadership always has to be strong. Fourie deservedly got the chance to captain his country.
"With the likes of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, myself, Francois Louw, that core of leadership make the team strong. We were able to step up."