Having seen his 11 match unbeaten run come to an end last weekend with a 2-1 home defeat to Watford, McCarthy was looking for his side to get back to winning ways against Stoke – but he certainly did not like what he saw in the first half.
"I was angry at half-time because we weren't intense enough in our pressing. It's the first time I have raised my voice," admitted McCarthy.
"It had all gone very well up until last weekend. We didn't want to lose again after last that and it was a hard-earned point in the end.
"I told them 'if you can't win it, then don't lose it' and the draw means we've started another unbeaten run."
The length of that run will be severely tested in the second round of the Welsh derby at Swansea's Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
The Bluebirds were beaten 2-0 at home and it will be McCarthy's first taste of the biggest game in Welsh football.
"I've been involved in some big derbies before – Man City v Man United, Newcastle v Sunderland, Ipswich v Norwich and Millwall v West Ham – but I know this is a special game for our fans," said McCarthy.
"It wasn't our night against Stoke and we could have lost it with that header against the crossbar at the end. Sometimes you just have to take the point, put it in your pocket and move on."
While Cardiff went down a place to ninth, Stoke remained in 11th, leaving their boss Michael O'Neill ruing some golden chances that were missed.
"It was certainly a better result than Saturday, when we were disappointed at losing 3-0 at Middlesbrough. The most important thing was to get a good reaction and to have a good attitude to this game," said O'Neill.
"We had the better chances and we clearly deserved to win the game. We were the better team in the first half, although the second half was a lot more even.
"We were put under pressure from set plays and long throws and that made it difficult for us to get out at times. That's how Cardiff get their opportunities, they press you and they are a very physical team.
"We should have been 2-0 up at half-time with the chances we had – it was as simple as that. But we didn't take our chances.
"The nature of this league and the margins in the games, that's the difference. I've asked the players to be more ruthless, but we aren't making the most of the chances we are getting."