Sweden midfielder Seb Larsson says Sunderland showed strength of character by coming back to take a point against West Bromwich Albion.
Despite taking an early lead, the Black Cats trailed 2-1 before Larsson's goal earned a draw in the season's opener.
"The big difference from last season, we could have lost that game 3-1 or 4-1," Larsson told BBC Newcastle.
"If you look back at how it's been maybe the early part of last season, we wouldn't have got back from that."
Sunderland ended last season with four wins in the final five games to secure their Premier League status, a far cry from their start to the campaign which brought 11 defeats between August and the turn of the year.
Saturday's result was the fourth time in five seasons that the Wearsiders have started a Premier League campaign with a draw.
"I wouldn't say we're satisfied, far from it - we're still quite disappointed that we didn't win the game," Larsson added,
"Overall there are positives to take from it compared to last season and I feel we're moving in the right direction.
"I think the main thing is that there's good bits to build on, especially in the second half with what went on and going behind at a place that we've struggled at. We'll take the positives and crack on."