Jeremy Coney told Sky Sports that New Zealand's "shell shocked" batsmen must learn how to deal with bouncing deliveries and improve their strokeplay following their heavy defeat to South Africa in Cape Town.
The Kiwis were skittled out for 45 in their opening knock of the first Test against the Proteas, with Kane Williamson (13) the only man to make double figures.
New Zealand fared better in their second batting attempt, amassing 295, with Dean Brownlie (109) recording his maiden Test ton and skipper Brendon McCullum (51) chipping in, too.
But the Antipodeans still slipped to an innings-and-27-run loss at Newlands to fall 1-0 behind in the two-match series - which concludes in Port Elizabeth next week - leaving former New Zealand skipper Coney nonplussed.
"It was only when McCullum and Brownlie were batting in the second innings that New Zealand had the slight upper hand," said Coney, who amassed three centuries in his 52 Tests.
"At least half the side looked shell shocked by the bounce from the South African bowlers; they certainly can't play a hook shot and are getting hit by balls about stump high.
"Bradley-John Watling (42 from 151 balls) absorbed some heat but he didn't throw anything back and play too may strokes, which you have to do against the top sides.
"And I don't want to pick on James Franklin, but I'm going to; he can play strokes but he doesn't move his feet and he takes singles off the first ball and puts other players under pressure; it's symptomatic of the way New Zealand's batsmen don't stand up and count."
"New Zealand have been a real melange of okay and awful in this Test, but this is a pattern that has emerged over the last year where they have lost the first Test of a two-Test series by an innings."
Kent batsman Rob Key added: "New Zealand were out-skilled by South Africa in every department - apart from in the spinning one where they have Jeetan Patel - and that made it difficult for them.
"You wonder who they going to build their side around, but Brownlie showed something, and Ross Taylor can come back so there is a glimmer of hope."
Key, however, purred over the seam bowling of Proteas quick Dale Steyn on the third and, ultimately, final day at Newlands, with the 29-year-old plucking the wickets of Franklin and Patel to record innings figures of 3-67 from his 30 overs.
"He gave everything and bowled eight overs on the reel after lunch, bowling bouncers and banging it in on a slow pitch, which all bowlers will tell you is the toughest thing you can do, " Key said of Steyn, who now has 304 wickets to his name from his 61 Tests.
"He didn't hold back at any stage and basically told the New Zealand tail-enders: 'You are going to have to fight like hell here to stick around' - something they weren't able to do - and then he ran out the final man with a throw from the boundary for good measure."
Key and Coney were also impressed by the batting of Alviro Petersen (106) and Jacques Kallis (60) during South Africa's solitary innings at Newlands, which was swelled to 347-8 declared by further half centuries from AB de Villiers (67) and Hashim Amla (66).
"New Zealand don't have a tremendous attack so that devalues Petersen's hundred a little bit - if a Test century can ever be devalued," said Key, who played the last of his 15 Tests for England in 2005.
"But conditions were tough for batting and he was very solid, hung on in there, and got his runs with the odd bit of expanse - and that allowed Amla, Kallis and De Villiers to play their shots around him."
Of Kallis, 37, who became the fourth man to reach 13,000 Test runs in the Cape Town contest, joining Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting in that elite club, Coney added: "I feel we are now seeing the blossoming of him as a batsman.
"He is now playing the shots he feels more confident about playing and has become a better batsmen aesthetically than he used to be - though I'm sure 13,000 Test runs helps that!
"He has batted three in the past - probably the most testing position - so that proves he has a good defence, and he has repelled all the great bowlers he has had to face, including that fearsome Australian attack featuring Glenn McGrath."
The second Test between South Africa and New Zealand is live from 8.30am on Sky Sports 2 HD on Friday, January 11.