Their batting was awful in a modest run chase of 233 for victory and left former skippers Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan questioning the England team's temperament.
In a furious assault by Stokes, the all-rounder hit two sixes in as many balls off Udana, but Wood was the last man to fall as England's chase fell short on 212.
Although England were missing Jason Roy because of a hamstring tear, Buttler refused to make an excuse out of the absence of the fast-scoring opener.
Kusal Mendis, who post-game described Malinga as the captain of the bowling attack, put the 35-year-old's performance down to knowledge collated over his long career and expressed hope Sri Lanka can overcome the odds to extend their World Cup stay.
England are likely to need to win at least one of their final three games to advance to the last four, but with those matches coming against the top three of Australia, India and New Zealand, the pressure is on Trevor Bayliss' side to perform.
This was England's second pool loss after a 14-run defeat by Pakistan, but Morgan is refusing to panic.
"We need to go back to the process that has taken us to being a strong side in the world", he added.
'We are going to lose games in the group stages. "But we needed to take a couple of wickets and we were in the game". So that is why I said to him, if you want to go home and come back that is fine.
However, in the next match again when they had to bat second and the target was only 233, the team kept losing wickets at regular intervals and at the end were beaten by 20 runs.
De Mel also criticised Sri Lanka's team bus - saying it was more cramped than the double-decker vehicles provided to other teams - blasted the net facilities at Cardiff as "unsatisfactory" and complained the squad's hotel in Bristol lacked a swimming pool.
"When we get beaten we tend to come back quite strong", he said.
However, former English cricketer called the loss a "hiccup" and predicted that England will still win the trophy despite the loss against the Lankans.
England may have risen to the top of the ODI rankings since a first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup by playing an aggressive brand of cricket that revolves around dynamic batsmen seeing the team to large totals.
That England didn't have the "right attitude" was damning, for all matches count under this pool system, used for the first time since 1992. "I hope we are not in an era where in the dressing room you can't say that is not good enough".