As England cruised to an innings victory inside seven sessions, as their young spinner started to take wickets and their slip cordon hold sharp chances, you could almost believe all was right in their world.

This was, for sure, a step in the right direction after the debacle of Lord's.

The biggest positives? One of them was probably the batting of Jos Buttler who, for the second Test in a row, vindicated his somewhat surprising selection with an important contribution. There are still liable to be days when his game is exposed but he will take confidence from this performance.

The all-round performance of Dom Bess was also encouraging. He followed his half-century at Lord's with another fine innings - an even better one, perhaps - then his first three Test wickets and an outstanding catch. Nobody should think he is, after 18 first-class games, the finished article but he has some intangible quality that suggests he may keep improving and, in time, become a regular at this level. Tellingly, Joe Root said Bess was "desperate" to come in as nightwatchman; that passion and confidence will serve him well.

Stuart Broad also bowled nicely and finished with six wickets in the match. In truth, though, he bowled a bit better at Lord's than his statistics suggested and, even here, his figures do not reflect how often he beat the bat. As Trevor Bayliss said after both games, it wasn't the bowling that was primarily at fault at Lord's. It was the five dropped chances and the flimsy batting.

This was an important game for Bayliss. Had England lost they would have fallen to No. 7 in the ICC's Test rankings and the pressure to sack him (from this format, anyway) would have been immense. He probably wouldn't have survived as coach in all formats.

In some ways, such a situation plays to his strengths. What he is very good at is controlling emotions in the dressing room. Where England could easily have played nervous, tentative cricket, he tried to ensure they remained relaxed and confident. It is a significant talent. Tellingly, he said his message before this game were exactly the same as before every other game.

What Bayliss is not so good at doing is intervening technically - the argument is that players at this level should know their games and tinkering may prove counterproductive - and, it appears, giving players the kick up the backside they sometimes need.

For it is intriguing that they produced this performance only after they had been condemned for the defeat at Lord's. The easy answer would be to conclude that, stinging from the criticism, embarrassed by their performance, they redoubled their efforts and produced a more polished performance. And there is, perhaps, something in that. As Bayliss himself said: "It might be a case of having to remind the guys what it's like to be embarrassed in one game if we don't keep focused. It's not the first time we've played cricket and then played some really good cricket. So we have to recreate that every time we go out."

"They need to find that feeling and consistently use it to put in performances like this because when those two bowl like that it is very difficult for any side to play against" Root on the performance of Anderson and Broad

But that may be a little simplistic. For it does have to be acknowledged that Pakistan were, at times in this match, very poor and that England had some luck. Pakistan winning the toss, for example, was an enormous stroke of fortune: had England won it they, too, would have batted and they, too, would have been exposed to the lavishly swinging ball.

Equally, Buttler was dropped at midwicket when he had just 4. And, as he went on to score 80 and the next highest score in the game was 56, it was clearly a huge moment.

And then there was Pakistan's second innings batting. Suffice to say, it was awful. It very much justified their ranking of No. 7 and any critique of England has to acknowledge that. A 1-1 series result reflects better on Pakistan, in these conditions, than it does on England. And, harsh though it sounds, there were times when it was palpably obvious that this was an encounter played between two mid-ranking sides.

There were signs of improvement, though. Both Broad and James Anderson, who were criticised for the length they bowled at Lord's, bowled much fuller spells with the new ball here that suggested a conscious reaction. Broad's new-ball spell in the first innings was the fullest of his Test career and Anderson's, in the second innings, was the third fullest opening spell of his career. And, when Anderson bowls full, he has taken a wicket every 30 balls in the last 12 months. And a wicket every 75 balls when he bowls short.

"I asked the guys to play with pride and passion and you saw that," Root said afterwards. "There is an element of that that comes out through criticism. You want to prove people wrong and you have to have that within you to play at this level.

"To play for such a long time at this level like our senior guys have you need to have that. You saw it with Alastair Cook in Melbourne and you've seen it with the two bowlers this week. That is why they are record breakers for this country.

"They need to make sure they harness everything they did leading into this game," Root added. "They need to find that feeling and consistently use it to put in performances like this because when those two bowl like that it is very difficult for any side to play against."

Keaton Jennings provided some stability at the top of the order, too. Yes, he only made 29. But, in tricky conditions, he helped England see-off the new ball and gave the middle-order a bit of protection. It would be a surprise if he did not open the batting in the series against India.

There were a couple of concerns, too. Sam Curran - charged with attempting to fill the hole left by Ben Stokes' injury - clearly has some skill as a batsman and bowler and, aged 20, has time to develop and improve. But there have been, in modern times, very few - if any - bowlers of his relatively diminutive height and relatively modest pace to prosper at this level. The stats show that the ball that brought the wicket of Shahdab Khan was the only delivery that resulted in a false shot off him in the second innings.

And, while Dawid Malan was unfortunate to receive a fine delivery, he now averages 29 after 14 Tests. It isn't enough and, with the likes of Joe Clarke pushing for selection, Malan may await the announcement of the squad ahead of the India series with some nervousness.

So, where does all this leave England a couple of months ahead of that Test series against India? With a lot to prove, really. India - strong and motivated as they appear to be - have not have had a better chance to win in England for some time.

England averted ignominy here but, as Root put it: "We've a lot of hard work to do to get where we want. We had a point to prove and it's a really good step forward. But we know there's a long, long way to go."