In Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Seagulls, the pair started alongside each other for the first time since our 5-0 Champions League victory over Copenhagen on October 5.
It was also the Spain international’s first league start of the season, which represented the end of a five-match hiatus for the duo lining up together.
There was no sign of ring rust though, as they were their usual composed and impressive selves, despite Leandro Trossard’s strike early in the second half scuppering hopes of a clean sheet.
And Howey explained how time will help them re-familiarise with each other on the pitch.
He told our Matchday Live show: “When you play with a centre-half and if you play with someone regularly, you’ll know what he’s good at and possibly what he could be susceptible to.
“I’m not saying these two have anything they’re susceptible at, but at the same time you know your centre-halves.
“Obviously you’ve got two quality players.
“Both have got fantastic ability, both very good at pretty much the all-round game, but when you’ve got the two of them together with each one understanding the other, it makes it that much easier to play with them.
“And more difficult for opposition forwards to play against them.”
Howey spent three memorable seasons at the Club between 2000 and 2003 and played a part in our promotion back to the Premier League in 2001/2002.
He then made 24 league appearances the following season as we recorded a 9th placed top-flight finish.
Throughout that time, the defender was a main stay in Kevin Keegan’s side and played alongside a number of centre-backs, including fellow Matchday Live guest Andy Morrison.
And he revealed how knowing your defensive partner inside-out makes life easier for the whole team.
“Just say if I was playing with Andy (Morrison), which I had done, normally I’d let him go and make the headers and I’d just sweep around him,” Howey continued
“Obviously if the ball is coming from my side, it’s vice versa.
“But when you have that understanding, which you get over time, it’s brilliant and it makes your job so much easier.”