Level-headed Baines flies under the radar
As Ashley Cole faces disciplinary action after his Twitter abuse of the Football Association, Everton's Leighton Baines was busy presenting the acceptable face of England's left-back fraternity.
The 27-year-old Merseysider has lived his England career in the shadow of Chelsea's Cole as an able deputy to a defender of undisputed world-class, one whose enduring quality is amply illustrated by 98 international caps.
And Cole will claim the headlines once more in the build-up to England's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland following his ill-judged profanity aimed at the FA after an independent commission queried his evidence in the hearing which found team-mate John Terry guilty of racial abuse against QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
The notion of Baines taking to Twitter is unthinkable - the idea that he would use the platform to abuse the FA even more so. He is a thoughtful personality who prefers to get lost in the crowd away from the field of play, rather than attract attention and raise his deliberately low profile.
He is more likely to engage England manager Roy Hodgson in a chat about 1950s music - apparently it was a subject for discussion between the pair recently - than be taking calls from him asking for explanations about outbursts on Twitter.
This will be of comfort to Hodgson, and perhaps the FA, and his growing maturity as a defender of the highest class will be of even greater reassurance, as anyone who watched Baines in Everton's 2-2 draw at Wigan will testify.
If Hodgson does not already know that England's left-back berth will be in safe keeping in the post-Ashley Cole era, then any spies he had in attendance at The DW Stadium could have confirmed it for him.
Cole, in my opinion, still has the edge as the superior left-back but the gap is narrower than it has ever been and on Saturday's performance Baines has time to improve even further.
Off the pitch, those who know Baines well speak of an understated but highly intelligent character - traits which should not be taken for any lack of desire and passion to represent his country.
There may have been times when a shortage of self-belief could have held Baines back for club and country but he is now a talent in full bloom and much appreciated by Everton manager David Moyes.
After watching Baines earn Everton a point with a late penalty, his third such strike against his former club in his Goodison Park career, Moyes could barely contain his admiration for what the defender had offered his team. His old admirers greeted him warmly in recognition for his time at Wigan but there is no doubt he is becoming a rather large pain in the neck for manager Roberto Martinez.
"Leighton Baines was fantastic - his performance and his penalty," said Moyes. "His performance was right up there, as good as anything. He drove us on. Just outstanding."
The penalty Baines struck high and powerfully beyond Ali Al Habsi was fitting reward for him and Everton after an absorbing encounter in which Wigan led twice through Arouna Kone's early offside goal and Franco di Santo's strike, with Nikica Jelavic's equaliser sandwiched in between.
Baines was the game's outstanding figure, performing defensive duties while also striking a post in the first half and inspiring Everton's wave of second-half attacks before his crucial late contribution.
In short, it was a display virtually without a flaw and personified by a 96th-minute sprint, albeit in vain, to try and retrieve a wayward pass in an attempt to forge an unlikely Everton victory. The instant beam delivered by Moyes when his name was mentioned confirmed it.
Baines has been instrumental in Everton's fine start to the season as a creator and now scorer of goals and his left-flank partnership with Steven Pienaar is as potent as anything the Premier League has to offer, after he was reunited with the elegant South African following his return from Spurs.
It was all done on a tough afternoon for the Merseysiders when a high-octane Wigan took full toll on a lacklustre and uncharacteristally lazy Everton start that carried some of the hallmarks of a team that seemed to be daring to believe its own good publicity.
This would have been a surprise in a club and team that does not do "big time" and Moyes made the necessary adjustments required at the interval. John Heitinga was given the merciful release of being kept back in the dressing room after his lack of pace was exposed by Kone and promising young Belgian Kevin Mirallas was moved from the right flank to play alongside the predator Jelavic.
This finally gave Everton momentum and carried them forward in front of the massed ranks of their 5,000 fans. Moyes felt they were undermined by referee Kevin Friend's refusal to accept penalty appeals after the break, and Kone's questionable first goal was an understandable sore point.
Wigan deserved their point, however, and so did Everton as the belief injected into their system by a fine start eventually led to concerted pressure and a point.
Whether Everton can maintain their current lofty position cannot be answered yet and the midfield mix does not look quite right without the stable base provided by the unsung and currently injured Darron Gibson.
But there is no doubt this is a different Everton from this time last year. Jelavic is a constant threat and that Baines-Pienaar pairing is one of rare, almost telepathic creation. The style is more expansive, the threat more obvious, even if it has led to more gaps at the back.
The pieces came together to ensure Everton's morale was not dented by defeat - and the most important piece of all on Saturday was Baines.