Neither Maitland nor Hogg could make an impact with the little possession they had but Nicol believes the result does not reflect the country's true strength heading into the World Cup.
"The next time these two teams play each other is in Newcastle during the Rugby World Cup next October, when neither side will look anything like the teams who played in Port Elizabeth on Saturday," he said in his Daily Mail column.
"I reckon there are only two Scotland players in the team on Saturday guaranteed to face the Springboks next year - and they are Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland.
"So what did we find out from Saturday's match? That South Africa's back-up players are better than Scotland's back-up players.
"Scotland were blown away in Port Elizabeth, especially with the physicality of the Springboks.
"You know what you're going to get when you play against them, but it doesn't make it any easier to stop."