There are many similarities between then and now. McGeechan returns as head coach for a Lions party led by another commanding second row personality, two years after the Springboks once again climbed the world summit.
A similar outcome in terms of the result now becomes Shaw's latest target, as he bids to recreate one of his greatest career highlights.
One of only three 1997 Lions still playing professional rugby in 2008/09, Simon Shaw was a raw 24-year-old the last time the Lions visited the Republic.
With just six England caps to his name prior to departure for South Africa, the Bristol University graduate appeared in seven games for the Lions in '97, finishing on the winning side in all but one of those fixtures.
The giant Bristol and now Wasps lock has gone on to win a World Cup, two Heineken Cups, three English Premiership titles, two English League Cups, an Anglo-Welsh Cup and the Parker Pen Shield in the 12 years since '97, but Shaw admits that his Lions bow still holds special memories.
"I remember everything about 1997," says Shaw, who also toured with the Lions in 2005 after being called up as a late replacement for Ireland's Malcolm O'Kelly.
"It was such an amazing tour, not just the performances on the pitch but the whole experience, going out with the squad, trips that we went on while we were there, everything was just incredible.
"I'd just finished university and for me, being relatively young and being with a lot of guys who I'd played junior levels with, it was just an incredible experience."
Simon Shaw (far right) was a Lion under Ian McGeechan 12 years ago
Shaw may have missed out on a Test cap on his two Lions tours but he has no doubt that the consistency of the 1997 Lions squad as a whole played a key role in securing a series victory over the then world champions.
Shaw featured in victories over an Eastern Province XV, Western Province, Mpumalanga, Natal, Free State Cheetahs and Northern Free State as the Lions developed a winning mentality that came to the fore in the first two internationals against the Boks.
"It will go down in history as a bit of an iconic tour. It was the best of the old school tours combined with a real step up in performance levels.
"I think that's what shocked South Africa most, the level of performance we were able to put in Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, all through the tour. We only lost two games and our performances never really dipped throughout that tour.
"The South Africans undoubtedly had a plan and that was to soften us up for the Tests. But I think the class of player we had throughout the squad meant that whoever had the honour of representing the team in the Test matches was going to perform.
"Whether or not they managed to injure whoever it was at the time, there was always someone who would come in and do just as good a job."
Shaw's most recent Lions appearance came against Auckland in 2005
Like so many of his colleagues from the last victorious Lions tour, Shaw pinpoints an infectious team spirit as another of the key reasons behind the Lions' success.
The 6ft 8in Keynan-born star admits that the atmosphere in 2005 may have differed slightly and that the class of 2009 will need to work incredibly closely as a group if they are to repeat the feat of their 1997 predecessors.
"It's very, very hard to create camaraderie," explained Shaw.
"On tours like that, especially with the duration that the 1997 tour was, the biggest problem is making sure that there's no poisonous elements within the squad that drag other members down. That can often start when players talk to their mates from whichever country they're from and start moaning or niggling about selection or anything else really. I think that's perhaps been the downfall of other tours."
With Shaw among the party for the current tour, it is unlikely that those negative elements he talks of will be allowed to develop. His experience of 1997 and his desire to succeed in 2009 could be hugely influential on a tour which he has feely admitted has helped postpone his retirement from the sport he knows and loves.