Stoke were not expected to survive in the Premier League last season after being promoted but went on to finish 12th.
They are currently ninth, but McCarthy is wary of focusing too much on the success of other sides and aims to follow his own instincts to try to ensure that Wolves are not one-season wonders in the top flight.
He said: "We used to say that Charlton were the blueprint for everyone to follow and look what has happened to them.
"That blueprint has been thrown away hasn't it. That was everyone's blueprint wasn't it. It was 'Oh, we all want to be like Charlton'.
"Well I say let's be like ourselves and let's see if we can stay up on our own merits and not by anybody else's."
While determined to focus on doing things his own way, McCarthy admits he has been impressed by what Stoke have done and thinks it would be a major mistake to just believe that success has been achieved because they are a physical side who are good at set pieces.
He added: "I think you might be doing them a disservice by saying they are good at set pieces.They have got more to their game than that.
"Just look at their players, the likes of Liam Lawrence, Glenn Whelan, Matthew Etherington, they are far from devoid of ability.
"Let me tell you a team that goes down to Tottenham and wins like they did last weekend shows what they are about. They did well last season and they are a good side.
"Their manager, Tony Pulis, is a pal of mine and his teams are always very competitive and very well organised.
"But what has impressed me most about them is that they got promoted and stayed up."
Wolves head to Stoke on the back of impressive draws against Everton and Aston Villa.
But McCarthy knows they need to start turning those draws into wins to stay clear of trouble at the foot of the table.
He added: "It is all right playing well. But we would have been better off winning one and losing one as we would have more points on the board.
"That doesn't take away from the fact that they were two good performances and two good points. What we have to do now is turn those good performances and draws into wins.
"That won't be easy at Stoke as they have got a good home record. Of course it will be a hard game. They are a solid team.
"We have made some really steady progress this season. We have been steady but we need to turn those solid performances into a victory. how do we do that? Well we'll try and work that one out."
Wolves welcome back striker Stefan Maierhofer for after the Austrian served a one-match ban.
But Kevin Doyle and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake are expected to continue in attack.
On-loan Chelsea central defender Michael Mancienne is available again after missing the last two games through illness.
Stoke 5/6, Draw 12/5, Wolves 7/2