Fast forward to the present however and things could not be more different.
Warren Gatland, sorely missed during the autumn, will be concentrating on his British & Irish Lions duties during the competition, leaving Rob Howley with the task of trying to rouse the troops after three straight defeats to Australia in the summer and four straight defeats to Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and the Wallabies.
The autumn was not without its positives - namely the second-half performance against the All Blacks while once again Wales came within a whisker of defeating Australia - but ultimately, they have regressed since lifting the 2012 RBS 6 Nations trophy.
And with an ever-growing injury list that has ravaged the pack in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Bradley Davies, Aaron Jarvis and hooker Huw Bennett as well as centre Ashley Beck and fly-half Rhys Priestland, the bookies are not expecting Wales to repeat last year's feat.
But Turnbull, whose early-season form for the Scarlets saw him start Wales' opening autumn clash with Argentina, only to suffer a knee injury and soldier on in vain, claims the Red Dragons roar loudest when they have a point to prove.
"We definitely feel like we have a point to prove and we certainly do have our backs against the wall, but that kind of situation brings the best out of us," said the 24-year-old, who has five caps to his name.
"We weren't proud of the autumn, it was a difficult run of games for us and we were playing against some top quality opposition but we wanted to get the Ws and we didn't manage it.
"People have been writing us off after that but that will be a motivating factor for us, that will spur us on and make sure that we make up for what was a disappointing autumn.
"We want to go out there and show that we are good players and show what we can do and we have a title to defend and we are desperate to do that."
Turnbull's international season hasn't exactly gone to plan but it's testament to his commitment that despite suffering the injury early on against Argentina, he finished the 80 minutes.
A new lease of life under new Scarlets coach Simon Easterby, coupled with the fact that both Ryan Jones and Lydiate - last year's player of the tournament - are expected to miss Wales' opening game, means Turnbull is likely to start Wales' opener against Ireland in Cardiff on February 2.
But he's only too aware that he has a fight on his hands to earn his place.
"It's one of the strongest positions we have in terms of competition for places, you have to wait your turn because your behind people like Sam Warburton and Ryan Jones and Toby Faletau in the back row.
"So you really have to take your chance and that's why it was so devastating to pick up the injury against Argentina.
"Having Simon as coach has been great for the whole Scarlets squad but it's great that he was a back row himself, he's not long out of the game and he has fresh, modern ideas that have really helped me."