And yet, in spite of racking up more than 100 appearances for the Blues since then, there is a sense that the Yorkshireman has never quite been a first-choice player, given some of the stellar talent jostling with him for a place in the team.
That's despite some decent runs in the side, in particular in the first half of the 2011-12 title-winning season that included an outstanding display in the 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
His versatility is an asset, but it can be a hindrance—what's his best position? More of that later.
In the meantime, here are five reasons why James Milner is a big asset for City.