That's why he has demanded the Loins raise their game once again following their big wins over the Barbarians and Western Force.
"This will be our toughest test, along with the Waratahs, and we are anticipating we'll have to go up another level in terms of intensity, physicality and skill levels," admitted the Lions assistant coach.
"They've named as strong a side as they could have done. While we stepped up another level in our game against the Force we are under no illusions that we will have to find another level again against the Reds, and that is what we need.
"It's about performing our skills under pressure - that's what international rugby is all about. It's about getting our running lines, defensive lines and game management right - we aren't going to have much time on the ball to make decisions and that's when you learn about players."
The threat of a Reds back line that is only missing the inspirational Will Genia at scrum half, but which can boast five Qantas Wallabies, has meant the Lions have spent more work on the defence this week in anticipation of an all out assault from the in-form home team.
The Reds have only been beaten once at home this season in Super Rugby, against the Western Force, and have only lost three games at Suncorp in the last three years.
"The quality of the opposition is going to be a test for our defence. Quade Cooper is a hugely talented player who can do anything. They obviously want him to have the ball in his hands as much as possible and he will create opportunities for them, there is no doubt about that," added Howley.
"We have concentrated on our defence because it is going to be key to keeping not only Quade Cooper quiet, but a lot of other players in the Reds team as well."