South Africa is under India's World Cup-winning mentor Gary Kirsten for the first time in Thursday's opening T20 game. The Aussies are coached by Troy Cooley for the short term following Tim Nielsen's departure.
Hashim Amla also stands in for AB de Villiers as the Proteas' new captain in the limited overs matches, while Australia hopes teenage fast bowler Pat Cummins and explosive batsman David Warner - standout players at the recent Champions League tournament - can prove their international pedigree in the short formats.
Michael Clarke will lead Australia in the three ODIs and two Tests in just his second series in charge following the trip to Sri Lanka.
Both teams chose to rebuild after similar failures at the cricket World Cup six months ago, with Ricky Ponting stepping down in favour of Clarke and Graeme Smith giving up the South African limited overs captaincy. He remained as Test skipper.
The sight of Ponting and Smith - who have gone head to head for nearly a decade - taking a back seat in the one-dayers under new leaders will be strangely unfamiliar.
'It seems to be that in Australian cricket at the moment there are plenty of opportunities for younger guys,' said Cameron White, Australia's captain for the T20s before Clarke flies in with the ODI and Test players. 'I'm not sure if we're in a flat spot or a down spot ... maybe it's just a bit of changing the guard with certain players.
'They (South Africa) also have a new coach and so do we. We don't actually have a coach at the moment, we've got an interim coach, so we're in a similar position I guess you could say.'
What will stay the same is the fierce rivalry, with the teams' reputations as two of cricket's most aggressive outfits on the field.
South Africa's exit from the Rugby World Cup in a tense quarterfinal loss to the Aussies this weekend has turned the heat up a notch for home fans, who are baying for revenge against their most familiar sporting rival.
'The best of enemies' is how South Africa's media describes the relationship between the cricket teams ahead of the tour. 'Let's welcome the Aussies with a bloody good hiding,' TV adverts over here say.
White said at Australia's first media event of the tour that they had watched on TV in South Africa as their Wallabies beat the Springboks in a fearsome rugby match. It'll likely be as confrontational in the cricket, with both sides eager to prove they've emerged from the Ponting and Smith eras in good shape.
'There's no doubt they (South Africa) are a great side and they will be very tough to beat,' said White on the T20s, where neither Ponting nor Smith will feature. 'We hope to win both games, that's how competitive we are,' he added, sweeping aside any thoughts that the 20-over games in Cape Town and Johannesburg will be a gentle warmup for the rest of the tour.
South Africa's new dawn under De Villiers was delayed after the wicketkeeper-batsman broke a bone in his left hand at the Champions League, likely ruling him out for the entire Australia tour. Amla, who was only recently appointed limited overs vice-captain under De Villiers, was immediately thrown into his first series as skipper against the top-ranked ODI team.
'Hashim is a natural leader,' spin bowler Robin Peterson said this week, backing South Africa's No. 1-ranked ODI batsman. 'Whether he is captain or not, he still displays the qualities of someone who leads from the front.'
But, it's former Proteas player and new coach Kirsten who has taken on the job of South Africa's cricketing savior, returning to his home country after guiding India to its famous triumph in April.
Despite the bullish buildup from South Africans, Kirsten has to quickly restore the public's shattered faith in the Proteas in their first outing since another disastrous World Cup campaign.
After all, South Africa's quarterfinal exit at cricket's showpiece six months ago was probably more of a shock than Sunday's defeat in the rugby.