I have a micro SD card that I am planning on using with a Raspberry Pi Zero, I do not have a mini HDMI to full HDMI adapter, but I do have a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, say could I image the card, do the first boot on the Pi 2, have it install Raspian, format wifi/serial and then put it in my Pi Zero? Would that work, or do the Pi's install differently based on their model?
It will work if you have the A/B/+ kernel on there and have not set a
config.txt. There is no OS image or kernel for the zero distinct from the A/B/+ models, so if you buy a card with it that's what you are getting. Since the 2 came out, images have had 2 kernels in them,
kernel.img (A/B/+) and
kernel7.img (Pi 2).
While there are some minor differences in the peripheral set, this is also true of the A, and there is no special
.dtb (device tree overlay)
for it in
/boot on Raspbian, only ones for the B and 2, presumably since they actually have different processors. The zero has the same processor as the A/B/+ with a higher official clock speed, which does not matter.
The kernel is very adaptive, so the fact there is no ethernet port, the USB hub may be different, etc. should not matter. If there were a need for a different kernel, the Foundation presumably would have indicated this (although TBH they are very elliptical and did not actually say this explicitly about the 2 in the announcement for that, just that it required an up to date OS image).
format wifi/serial and then put it in my Pi Zero?
Yes, that is high level configuration and would likely be the same if you ran your desktop with the card (if lower level stuff permitted that).