The former AC Milan and Lazio player, whose fascist sympathies caused controversy when he was appointed in March, had said after that match that his players had "rubbish in their brains" and needed "to have more confrontation, more anger with each other."
Bruce, now at Hull City, said Di Canio's confrontational style was outmoded.
"You cannot manage in the Premier League these days through a fear factor," he told talkSport radio on Monday. "You've got to be able to manage individuals.
"Man management has become more relevant in my experience than coaching. Once you get yourself in the Premier League, they're all good players and you've got to find a way of getting the best out of them."
Di Canio made sweeping changes in his short time at the north-eastern club, bringing in 14 new players and introducing a tough new fitness regime.
Those who did not agree with his methods were swiftly shown the door.
"I've never played under anyone like him and I've played for some of the best managers around," defender Titus Bramble said before he left in June. "He comes out in the media and hammers players and he hasn't said a word to them."
Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn agreed with Bruce that Di Canio's confrontational style had been his undoing, even if he thought the volatile Italian would have been given longer to prove himself.
"If we start to peel the layers off in the coming days and find out what life was like under him from various players, you'll probably see a story that says this was a guy who did things in a totally unique way and by the looks of things, the players weren't buying into it," he told Sky Sports television.
"It was perhaps they felt that the players were finding it hard to conform to his unique style."
Before moving to Sunderland Di Canio had a stint in charge of lower-league Swindon Town where his tenure was described by a club official as "management by hand grenade".