Wolves swept to the Championship title last season and booked their place in the top flight for the first time since 2003.
Now McCarthy admits that staying in the Premier League is the club's main aim.
"When we won it last season everyone was so happy, but finishing 17th would be the equivalent," he told Sky Sports News.
"Staying in the Premier League, getting into the Premier League - it doesn't matter, that is what we want - to stay in the Premier League."
McCarthy also expressed his delight that last season's top-scorer Sylvain Ebanks-Blake had penned a new long-term contract.
"Of course [it is a boost], I don't think there was any danger of him not signing," he said.
"He had two years left but it was reward for what he did last season."