Paul Lambert, the Norwich manager, blamed a dubious penalty decision and red card, for Leon Barnett, for costing his side a first victory of the season in their opening game at Carrow Road.
Kenwyne Jones headed in a stoppage time equaliser for Stoke City to grab a share of the points.
"We were on the back foot against a really good side, but the effort of the lads was excellent," Lambert said. "When you go down to 10 men at this level it is really tough. With 11, I think we would have seen it through."
Ritchie de Laet had scored against his old club to put the Canaries in front at the break.
After Jon Walters saw his penalty saved following Barnett's red card on the hour, it looked as if Norwich would hold on - only for Stoke's pressure to eventually tell.
The key incident of the match occurred just after the hour mark when Walters got ahead of Barnett and into the Norwich box, before tumbling.
Neil Swarbrick, the referee, ruled Barnett had tripped him and, as the last man, awarded a penalty and then sent off the Norwich defender.
"It was at least three yards outside the box, so how he gives the penalty, I don't know, and then he has given the red card," Lambert said. "It would have been a free kick anywhere else on the pitch, but it was not a sending off - you are getting a double hit.
Walters took the spot kick himself, but John Ruddy guessed correctly to make a fine save - as the Carrow Road faithful erupted.
Stoke, though, were to have the final say as Norwich were made to pay for some deep defending during the closing stages, as, in the third minute of added time, Jones headed in Glenn Whelan's cross.
Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, was pleased with the way his team continued to fight until the end of what has been a tough week which saw them travel to Switzerland for the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against FC Thun.
"It was just a case of banging on the door and hoping it would open, we had to wait late until it did," Pulis said.
Stoke lost Jermaine Pennant, the winger, to a calf problem in the first half.
Pulis hopes to add "three or four" new players to his squad this week, adding: "We have done remarkably well, now we need just a bit more quality into the team and that will help us this year.