Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Zabaleta's departure against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final truly was the beginning of the end for City's hopes that day.
Admittedly this is a soft consideration, and one that cannot be proven by statistics or any other objective measurable.
But here goes.
Everton's Leighton Baines is a very talented player who has the potential to become a leader at Goodison Park, per Kyle Bonn of nbcsports.com.
Arguably, Baines has not needed to lead at Everton to this point. Tim Howard carried a lot of that weight for a long time, though as the level of Howard's play ebbs it will be harder for him to maintain that primacy.
And right now, of course, Phil Jagielka is Everton's captain.
Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta, conversely, is a a player who has the potential to lead.
He has led for a long time and continues to do so now.
Zabaleta is often the first choice to take the arm band from Vincent Kompany on the rare occasions when Kompany leaves the pitch.
Moreover, Zabaleta has a history of leading teammates.
Per Duncan White's 2011 profile of Zabaleta for The Telegraph, Zabaleta at age 20 captained the Argentine contingent in the 2005 World Youth Championship tournament. Among his charges on that squad was current teammate Sergio Aguero.