And all the signs were there that it would be 11 before the afternoon was out when Paul Gallagher acrobatically put Plymouth ahead courtesy of a superbly-taken opener after merely 40 seconds.
Wolves enjoyed plenty of possession throughout the encounter but failed to really cut the visitors open, with Pilgrims goalkeeper Romain Larrieu rarely threatened.
"We were hopeless, let's cut to the quick, the way we played we were hopeless and we didn't deserve anything from the game," said McCarthy.
"I could be talking about penalty decisions, the scramble at the end - but the reality is we didn't deserve to win and Plymouth did.
"We gave them a goal, let them sit back and we didn't play well."
However, if Wolves appear to be buckling under the pressure of the promotion race, then so do their rivals.
With Birmingham not playing until Sunday, nearest challengers Reading and Cardiff also lost while Bristol City drew.
"They're obviously as poor as us," commented the Wolves boss.
Asked whether his side could string a run of results together needed to secure promotion, McCarthy remained positive, adding: "We've done it twice before. But form doesn't suggest it, of course not.
"I think we've probably got a worse record than Plymouth and I think Birmingham have only won one in eight and Reading can't be doing a great deal either.
"But we can't be relying on that, at some stage we have to win a game."
Opposite number Paul Sturrock believes the league leaders will come good in the end but admitted his side's victory, only their second in 17 league attempts and their first away from home since November, was not surprising.
"Nothing surprises me about this league, everybody seems able to beat everybody else, it's a very strange league," he said.
"I think Wolves are playing mind games with themselves at the minute. They have an excellent squad of players and it will just be a matter of time before they kick on again."
He added: "We didn't expect to score in the first 40 seconds. Over the game our goalkeeper hasn't had many saves to make and our back four and midfield did their job properly, they worked very hard."
The victory will come as a huge boost to Plymouth's survival hopes and provide Sturrock, a manager whose position seemed under threat not so long ago, with a more comfortable future.
But even he admits they must now follow it up with positive results in their next two games against Watford and Reading.
"Now the difficult stuff starts, instead of knocking a house down, we've got to go and build a couple," he added.
"We've got to get the points in these next two games to kick us into the 40s and then the 50s (point categories) - mid-50s is 'hallelujah land'."