"This is a big opportunity for us. There is a saying that history repeats itself - we won the World Cup in 1995 and two years later lost the series against the Lions," said de Villiers.
"We won the World Cup again in 2007 and are again two years down the line. However, we have a big advantage over 1997.
"That year, the coach (Carel du Plessis) was appointed the same year as the Lions' arrival. Our team is now settled and used to the coaching staff - that is one big advantage people should not look past."
The current Springbok coach also believes that Southern Hemisphere players are currently better equipped than their counterparts in the North and that the Boks will therefore have yet another advantage when it comes to the three-match Test series in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
"I don't think the players in the Northern Hemisphere exploit space as well as they should, whereas the Southern Hemisphere players do it very well and have more skills," he added.
South African rugby took a backward step against the Lions 12 years ago
De Villiers has been gaining information from the players and coaches who suffered the 2-1 defeat to the Lions 12 years ago in the hope it can provide possible clues, and contribute to the Springboks' revenge mission against Ian McGeechan's side.
McGeechan was the coach behind the Lions' series success 12 years ago and de Villiers is aware that his opposite number will not be short of an idea or two on how to approach a 10-match tour of South Africa.
"I have already had talks with Carel du Plessis, who was the coach in 1997, about this year's tour," added de Villiers.
"Even though 12 years have passed since the last series, those events are still relevant. They had McGeechan as coach then and that is the case again now.
"Carel, and the players that were involved, may offer us some insights that we would not have had. The players view what happened in 1997 as unfinished business."