McBride led the Lions to a comprehensive series victory over the Boks on a tour that saw his side win 21 and draw just one of their 22 fixtures in 1974.
McBride's men became known as 'The Invincibles' and have long since been a benchmark for all Lions touring parties that have followed.
But de Villiers, who believes his own side could be remembered as something truly special, has stated that those Lions touring South Africa at the moment will never be able to emulate their illustrious predecessors.
"The guys you've got now are good but they will never be like the 1974 Lions," said de Villiers, who is preparing the Springboks for the three-match Test series beginning on June 20 in Durban.
"The 1974 guys were in a class of their own and sometimes you only get that once in a lifetime.
"They (the 2009 Lions) will never be legends in their own time, while I think we do have it now and that's a big difference."
De Villiers also explained that, although the Springboks' series defeat of 1997 may still linger in the South African pysche, his squad are desperate to beat the 2009 Lions to make their own mark on the world rather than to erase painful memories of the past.
"I don't want to look back," added de Villiers.
"Now is more important to me. We want to do it for now, not for 1997.
"If we look to do it for those reasons it won't work. We don't want to be rectify the past or be part of history.
"What concerns me is now. We want to right our own history books."