And with the chance to earn the ultimate accolade now on the horizon, Howley believes the next two months of international action will take on added significance.
"Having a Lions tour in the summer gives a different feel to the whole season," said Howley.
"Right from pre-season players are working to be physically right for such a long season.
"In the autumn they put themselves in the shop window and then again in the Six Nations when they are going against their potential rivals."
Howley will be heading to Australia as an assistant coach to Warren Gatland but he insists he'll be in sole charge of the Welsh side in the Six Nations.
The former Wales and Lions scrum-half held the tag of interim boss during the autumn series but Gatland returned for the final two Tests against the All Blacks and Wallabies after missing the games against Argentina and Samoa.
This time the New Zealander will be on Lions duty for the entirety of the tournament, leaving Howley and his players in no doubt as to who is in charge.
"I spoke to Warren post-autumn about compromising the two weeks I was in charge and the two weeks Warren was in charge. I think clarity is important from the players' perspective," added Howley.
"There is clarity now. He will be watching other teams training so he is not going to be involved with us in terms of training or selection so the clarity from the coaching team to the players is very evident.
"It was difficult in terms of the autumn as you are always communicating with Warren in terms of the bigger picture. I was conscious of being interim head coach.
"With Warren being in charge of the Lions and the need for transparency, it is only right that Warren steps away. He will not be involved."