The former scrum half was in charge earlier this year and watched Wales destroy Stuart Lancaster's England to claim the Six Nations title with a convincing 30-3 victory.
Two tries from Alex Cuthbert helped Wales to a win that day in what was a superb, all round team performance. Now, with attentions turning to the first Dove Men Series clash with South Africa, Howley says Wales must produce the goods once again if they are to start the autumn with a win.
"Having watched South Africa in Johannesburg, we're probably coming up against one of the most physical sides in world rugby," he said.
"When this side played last, we beat England and our performance will have to go up another level to beat the Springboks.
"When you look at performances of late in the autumn series, we've been extremely disappointed. But it's been a good first two days - it's about getting the mental intensity right for what we expect a week on Saturday."
Howley watched South Africa go down to a 38-27 defeat to New Zealand in early October, a match which secured the Rugby Championship crown for the All Blacks.
"There's no doubt that game was a special event - it was a privilege to watch it live," added Howley.
"South Africa have world class players and their ability to play what's in front of them is a key trait of their game.
"That won't change and they go aerial a lot. Our back three need to dominate that battle because it's going to be key. One thing we've learnt when we play the southern hemisphere sides is that they kick more than other nations - that speaks volumes about our defence.
"We've spoken about the intensity of the international game and we need to get our players up to that level over the next few days."
With the clash against South Africa now just over a week away, Wales' 35-man squad are stepping up their preparations.
"It's good to see some new faces. There is no divine right to wear the national jersey and that's what we keep saying to the players," said Howley.
Tickets to see Wales in action at the Millennium Stadium in the 2013 Dove Men Series - against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia - on consecutive weekends from 9th November are available online at www.wru.co.uk/tickets - prices from £25, £10 concession.
Wales Dove Men Series 2013 fixtures:
Wales v South Africa - Saturday, 9 November, Kick-Off 5.30pm - £70 / £60 / £40 / £25
Wales v Argentina - Saturday, 16 November, Kick-Off 2.30pm - £40 / £30 / £10 concession (U16) /£70 Family ticket 2 adults + 2 concession
Wales v Tonga - Friday, 22 November, Kick-Off 7.30pm - £25 / £10 concession/ £60 Family ticket 2 adult + 2 concession/ Minis/Juniors/Schools offer, with every 8 concessions purchased 2 adult tickets free
Wales v Australia - Saturday, 30 November, Kick-Off 5.00pm - £70 / £60 / £40 / £25