The Six Nations champions slipped to a surprise defeat against the Pumas, who blew the home side away with a furious second-half display.
Howley believes that Wales never got out of second gear and were made to pay for their lack of tempo by a determined Argentine outfit.
He told Sky Sports News: "I am disappointed, frustrated and annoyed because we know we are a better side than that.
"We talked about it being an arm wrestle for 50 minutes and we were 12-6 ahead but we looked one-paced. When you play Argentina, tempo, pace and intensity are important but there is no doubt their experience and exposure to the Rugby Championship has taken that Argentina side to another level.
"They played the All Blacks, South Africa and Australia over a six-week period and they have certainly learned from that and we were exposed to it today and we very much came second."
Wales have a week to recover before facing Samoa, New Zealand and the Wallabies in quick succession at the Millenium Stadium.