Angelo Mathews welcomed the return of "Sri Lankan fight" after his side showed great resilience to make England work for a Test series victory at Chester-le-Street on Monday.
Mathews said he was embarrassed and humiliated by the manner in which the tourists slumped to an innings defeat in the first Test at Headingley, where they were bowled out for 91 and 119.
There was a sense of deja vu when Sri Lanka were skittled out for only 101 in reply to 498-9 declared, but Dinesh Chandimal top scored with a magnificent 126 in a total of 475 second time around.
Captain Mathews (80), spinner Rangana Herath (61) and opening batsman Kaushal Silva (60) also scored half-centuries to ensure Sri Lanka salvaged some pride.
Alastair Cook become the first Englishman - and the youngest at the age of 31 and 157 days - to score 10,000 Test runs by making an unbeaten 47 as England coasted to their victory target of 79 to win by nine wickets.
Sri Lanka trail 2-0 with just one game to come at Lord's next week, but all-rounder Mathews was encouraged by the character shown in the second innings.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks for us, unfortunately we didn't bat well in the first innings, we showed a better effort in the second." said Mathews.
"We had a brilliant first day, I thought it was a decent wicket to bat on but we dropped Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, started off poorly and carried it on with our batting.
"We showed our character in the second innings and have some positives to take to Lord's. We talked about the Sri Lankan fight, we've lost that in the past couple of weeks but we brought it back in the second innings.
"Chandimal, Rangana, Kaushal Silva, they showed a lot of skill and character."